Developing an advanced information system to support ballast water management.
Global ballast water management aims to reduce the transport and introduction of non-indigenous species through practices such as ballast water exchange and ballast water treatment. Comprehensive enforcement to ensure vessels are meeting ballast water management requirements are a key part of success, but such activities are limited by available resources. Targeted and/or stratified enforcement activities are one option to make best use of available resources. International vessels are required to submit ballast water reporting forms prior to arrival at many ports around the world, declaring quantities, geographic sources, management undertaken and expected discharge location. These data are essential for risk assessment and trends analysis, but the inflow of data can be overwhelming for daily operations, particularly for jurisdictions with many ports and/or high vessel traffic. Having near real-time access to ballast water data enhances opportunities for data validation and verification and facilitates customized reports such as mapping of exchange coordinates and ballast water discharge statistics. Customized software enables seamless application of best-available science through integration of decision-support tools. The Ballast Water Information System (BWIS) was developed to support daily ballast water enforcement activities and scientific research in Canada. The BWIS increases accessibility of ballast water report data and streamlines data processing to support decision-making using an on-line platform.