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|ESA satellite data reduce invasion of alien species
|Every day, thousands of different organisms are carried far from their natural habitat in water used as ship ballast. To reduce the transfer of invasive aquatic species between ecosystems, satellites are being used to assess areas at risk from
|While plants and animals have always clung to the outside of
ships' hulls, the
problem of marine invasions has dramatically increased since the
introduction of water-tight hulls in the 19th century.
It is estimated that around five billion tonnes of water, carrying a multitude of micro-organisms, eggs, larvae and larger organisms, are now transported annually as ballast. The intrusion of harmful aquatic species and pathogens through ballast water ranks one of the highest risks to the marine environment, especially in coastal waters.
Responding to this issue, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) formulated the â€˜International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sedimentsâ€™ to prevent the potentially devastating effects. The convention, currently being ratified, is expected to take effect in 2013.
To support Germany's Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH), which is responsible for ballast water management in German waters, ESA is providing satellite data for a case study to estimate the risk to the environmental from ballast water.
ESA's Data User
Element Innovators II Ballast Water project
supports BSH and the decision processes involved for ballast-
water management in
the North Sea and Baltic Sea prior to the ratification of the
A workshop will be held on 25 January in Hamburg, Germany, where decision-makers and shipping companies will meet to discuss the aim of expanding the tool for use throughout Europe and possibly North America.