IMO: New Project to Address Bioinvasions via Ships’ Hulls

Image Courtesy: IMO

A new global project to help protect marine ecosystems from the negative effects of invasive aquatic species has been given the go-ahead for preparation, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) said. 

The GloFouling Partnerships project – a collaboration between the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the IMO – will address the transfer of aquatic species through biofouling, in other words, the build-up of aquatic organisms on a ship’s underwater hull and structures.

The project will focus on the implementation of the IMO Guidelines for the control and management of ships’ biofouling. The document provides guidance on how biofouling should be controlled and managed to reduce the transfer of invasive aquatic species.

The GloFouling project follows the GEF-UNDP-IMO GloBallast Partnerships project, which worked to build capacity to implement IMO’s Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention. The BWM treaty addresses the transfer of potentially invasive aquatic species in the ballast water of ships.

The new project will build capacity in developing countries to reduce the transboundary introduction of biofouling-mediated invasive aquatic species.

“IMO has been at the forefront of the international effort to tackle the transfer of invasive aquatic species by ships. Addressing ship’s hull fouling is a crucial step to protect marine biodiversity. The treatment of hulls to reduce fouling by aquatic organisms has the additional benefit of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, since the drag of ships is reduced,” Stefan Micallef, Director at Marine Environment Division, IMO, commented.

The GloBallast project completed its work in 2017. The ongoing GloMEEP project is aimed at supporting the implementation of energy efficiency measures for shipping.

The GloFouling Partnerships project concept was approved by the GEF Council in May 2017, with a total funding of USD 6.9 million earmarked for implementation. As explained, the project is now going through a detailed preparation phase to be resubmitted to the GEF for endorsement before implementation can commence.

The GloFouling project preparation will be undertaken by the IMO Secretariat, which has invited interested member states to inform the secretariat of their intention to participate in the new project as soon as possible.

“GloFouling Partnerships will be an excellent opportunity to help tackle one of the key remaining vectors for the transfer of invasive aquatic species, which cause sizeable impacts on economies and livelihoods. GloFouling was the natural follow up to the GEF-UNDP-IMO GloBallast Partnerships programme which recently concluded after delivering a series of important achievements in reducing the transfer of harmful aquatic organisms through ships’ ballast water,” Andrew Hudson, Head, UNDP Water & Ocean Governance Programme, said.

“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 positively impact economic opportunities and the livelihoods of millions of people across the globe,” Chris Severin, Senior Environmental Specialist from the GEF, concluded.

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