All quiet on the ballast front
After Belgium’s ratification of the Ballast Treaty in early March, IMO was quick to announce that the percentage of the world fleet by gross tonnage had reached 34.82% and with the trigger point being so close intimated that monthly recalculations would take place. The figure given after the Belgian ratification was based on world fleet data as at the end of February 2016. While some delay might be expected in calculating the figure for end of March, ShipInsight’s sources suggest that there may even have been a slight reduction in the 34.82% figure. Apparently taking into account just the latest new deliveries, the breakdown for gross tonnage in March alone was split almost exactly 64% to 36% in favour of the non-ratifying group of IMO member states. The very slight difference may have been enough to add the extra 0.185 or go some way to it but when it comes to ships leaving the world fleet, more tonnage was lost by the 49 countries that have ratified than by the majority that have not. Taken together the balance for changes in March was 86% to 14% in favour of the non-ratifying group. However, the figures do not take into account any changes of flag in the existing fleet so there may be some differences to add in there. So it would appear that the trigger point has not been reached in March but with the main MEPC meeting being held in London later this month, there is a strong possibility that one or more states may use the occasion as a suitable platform to add their signatures and fire the starting gun. Certainly there are plenty of candidates but although Panama is said to be ready to sign, there are some who believe that the world’s largest open register will not want to be the one to bring the convention into effect but will happily follow if another state pulls the trigger.