Ballast water

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Ballast water

Beitrag  meodingu am Do Feb 24, 2011 9:55 pm

Ballast water
Main article: Ballast water discharge and the environment
A cargo ship pumps ballast water over the side

When a large vessel such as a container ship or an oil tanker unloads cargo, seawater is pumped into other compartments in the hull to help stabilize and balance the ship. During loading, this ballast water is pumped out from these compartments.

One of the problems with ballast water transfer is the transport of harmful organisms. Meinesz[67] believes that one of the worst cases of a single invasive species causing harm to an ecosystem can be attributed to a seemingly harmless jellyfish. Mnemiopsis leidyi, a species of comb jellyfish that inhabits estuaries from the United States to the Valdés peninsula in Argentina along the Atlantic coast, has caused notable damage in the Black Sea. It was first introduced in 1982, and thought to have been transported to the Black Sea in a ship’s ballast water. The population of the jellyfish shot up exponentially and, by 1988, it was wreaking havoc upon the local fishing industry. "The anchovy catch fell from 204,000 tonnes (225,000 ST; 201,000 LT) in 1984 to 200 tonnes (220 ST; 197 LT) in 1993; sprat from 24,600 tonnes (27,100 ST; 24,200 LT) in 1984 to 12,000 tonnes (13,200 ST; 11,800 LT) in 1993; horse mackerel from 4,000 tonnes (4,410 ST; 3,940 LT) in 1984 to zero in 1993."[67] Now that the jellyfish have exhausted the zooplankton, including fish larvae, their numbers have fallen dramatically, yet they continue to maintain a stranglehold on the ecosystem. Recently the jellyfish have been discovered in the Caspian Sea. Invasive species can take over once occupied areas, facilitate the spread of new diseases, introduce new genetic material, alter landscapes and jeopardize the ability of native species to obtain food. "On land and in the sea, invasive species are responsible for about 137 billion dollars in lost revenue and management costs in the U.S. each year."[64]

Ballast and bilge discharge from ships can also spread human pathogens and other harmful diseases and toxins potentially causing health issues for humans and marine life alike.[68] Discharges into coastal waters, along with other sources of marine pollution, have the potential to be toxic to marine plants, animals, and microorganisms, causing alterations such as changes in growth, disruption of hormone cycles, birth defects, suppression of the immune system, and disorders resulting in cancer, tumors, and genetic abnormalities or even death.[64]

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