India develops technology to fight aliens in the sea

Ballast water, as the sea water brought in by the ships is called, is sea water admitted into tanks at the bottom of the ship to stabilise it for the high seas.

According to A.C. Anil, scientist at the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), the technology which is developed by the NIO in association with the Pune-based National Chemical Laboratory and Mumbai University Institute of Chemical Technology can kill the alien organisms to the level prescribed by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), a UN body.

“Some of the organisms that the ballast water imported by the ships may bring along are black striped mussels and harmful algae which can lead to uncontrolled growth of organisms alien to the local ecology. This can wipe out local fisheries and harm the maritime ecology by fighting with the native organisms and creating an imbalance in the ecosystem,” Anil said.

The Ballast Water Treatment technology, which has been patented this year, is supported by the ministry of shipping.

“The facility to use the technology has been implemented in four ports in India -- two in Mumbai and one each in Vishakapatnam and Goa. So ships coming in into these ports can be selectively quarantined. By 2016, all the 12 major ports in the country will be covered,” Anil added.

“The system can kill organisms without adding more chemicals or destroying the ships, so it eco-friendly and is of low cost,” he added.

Underlining the significance of the Rs. 15 crore project in the light of the recent threat of radioactive waste being brought from Japan after the March 11 nuclear disaster, Minister of State for Earth Sciences and Science and Technology Ashwani Kumar said: “We understand the significance of the project particularly in the light of recent development and concerns of radioactive material being brought in by the ships sailing into our waters”.

Kumar was at NIO as part of a five-day tour of prime scientific institutions in Hyderabad, Bangalore and Goa. 

The problem of marine bio-invasion, according to NIO, is one that is faced by countries all over the world.

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