Biofouling initiative launched

SOURCE: Vessel Performance Optimisation (VPO Global)

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An initiative to target the transfer of aquatic species via ships’ hulls has been launched.

The GloFouling Partnerships project, which is a collaboration between the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), will drive actions to control and manage ships’ biofouling under the IMO Guidelines.

The project will work to implement a globally consistent approach to biofouling management and spur the development of best practices and standards for improved biofouling management in other ocean industries.

The introduction of aquatic organisms into new marine environments has negative consequences on the marine environment and ecosystem health. Furthermore, biofouling increases ships’ energy consumption, resulting in higher fuel consumption and emissions.

Twelve countries, representing a mix of developing nations and Small Island Developing States, have been selected to spearhead the work of the GloFouling project: Brazil, Ecuador, Fiji, Indonesia, Jordan, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Tonga.

The GEF is providing a US $6.9 million grant to deliver a range of governance reforms at the national level, through numerous capacity-building activities, training workshops and opportunities for technology adoption to help address the issue of invasive species. Strong participation from private sector stakeholders is also expected.

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC) will join the three main partners (GEF, UNDP, IMO) to lead the approach to other marine sectors with a view to developing best practices that may address the transfer of invasive aquatic species through improved biofouling management. IOC-UNESCO will work hand in hand with the GloFouling project to increase awareness of this environmental challenge among key stakeholders.

The World Ocean Council (WOC) has been selected to engage and channel the participation of private sector companies for the development of best industry practices in non-shipping sectors such as aquaculture and oil and gas extraction.

Hiroyuki Yamada, director of the Marine Environment Division, IMO, said: “This joint effort to implement the IMO Biofouling Guidelines and best practices for other marine industries will help nations to deliver essential contributions to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals.”

Mr Yamada also highlighted the additional contribution of biofouling management to the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from shipping through energy-efficiency gains resulting from clean hulls.

Andrew Hudson, head, UNDP Water & Ocean Governance Programme, added: “We know with high certainty that biofouling of ships and other mobile marine infrastructure is a serious environmental issue that can lead to the introduction of invasive species around the world.  UNDP is very pleased to collaborate once more with the GEF and IMO to take steps to address this important issue through a project that brings numerous environmental benefits.”

Chris Severin, Senior Environmental Specialist from the GEF, commented: “The implementation of the GloFouling Partnerships will be instrumental in battling aquatic invasive species and will not only lead to healthier more robust marine ecosystems, but also offer an opportunity to unlock blue economy potentials through the stimulation of public-private sector investments.”

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