Sea-Bird Scientific Developing Rapid Viability Assessment for Ballast Water Sampling

Sea-Bird Scientific claims to have advanced technology for the rapid viability assessment of phytoplankton designed specifically for ballast water analysis.

Sea-Bird believe this could meet a widespread need for rapid assessments on an operational basis by organizations like Port State Control (PSC). The technology can provide the capability to quickly assess an organism’s viability to reproduce. Based on established fluorescence methods, this scientific breakthrough assesses the ability of phytoplankton to undergo photorepair. It has demonstrated strong correlation with proven culture-based reproductive assessments such as the Most Probable Number (MPN) method, and can enable an accurate assessment within minutes, and thus provides a breakthrough improvement in performance in monitoring compliance for the 10 to 50 μm organism class.

Verifying compliance with ballast water management regulations and the performance of the vessels’ ballast water management system (BWMS) may involve sampling of ballast water at port. Currently, an accurate and representative analysis of ballast water at port to establish treatment compliance has many practical limitations and is said to be among the largest obstacles facing the industry.

“Assessing as organisms’ ability to reproduce in ballast water in a manner acceptable to Port State Control is important for regulators and ship-owners to help ensure ballast water is being properly treated,” Dr. Andrew Barnard, Chief Technology Officer, Sea-Bird Scientific. “We are excited about this emerging technology and believe it has significant potential to aide in the enforcement of ballast water regulations.”

The IMO adopted the Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention in 2004. It will enter into force 12 months after ratification by 30 Member States, representing 35% of the world’s merchant shipping tonnage. Recent reports indicate that entry into force could be in 2017, at which time ship-owners will be required to comply with the discharge standard.