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Global project will address biofouling

Wed 09 Aug 2017 by Paul Gunton

Global project will address biofouling
Stefan Micallef (IMO): Addressing hull fouling “is a crucial step to protect marine biodiversity” (credit: IMO)

A global project to address the transfer of aquatic species through biofouling is being established to follow the GloBallast Patnerships, which came to an end in June after 10 years.

It will be called the GloFouling Partnerships and will combine the same three organisations as before: the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and IMO.

In May, the GEF earmarked US$6.9M to the project, which is now going through a detailed preparation phase that is being co-ordinated by IMO’s secretariat. It has invited interested member states to advise it as soon as possible if they would like to be involved in the new project and has advised BWTT that it expects to hold a stakeholder meeting “sometime in early 2018” before final plans are resubmitted to the GEF for endorsement.

After that, the project partners will have an inception meeting when the project is formally started, which the secretariat expects to be in the second half of 2018.

The project will focus on implementing IMO’s Guidelines for the control and management of ships' biofouling to minimise the transfer of invasive aquatic species, which provides guidance on how biofouling should be controlled and managed to reduce the transfer of invasive aquatic species.

In a statement on Monday (7 August), IMO said that the new project “will build capacity in developing countries to reduce the transboundary introduction of biofouling-mediated invasive aquatic species.” It quoted the director of IMO’s Marine Environment Division, Stefan Micallef, who said that addressing ship’s hull fouling “is a crucial step to protect marine biodiversity” and pointed out the additional benefit of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, since the drag of ships is reduced.

Those remarks might suggest that the project’s main focus will be on improving antifouling treatments but IMO’s secretariat told BWTT that the project is not linked to the International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships. “Rather, it aims to focus on controlling the next important vector for invasive species through fouled hulls and will focus on the IMO guidelines on this,” it advised.

The head of UNDP’s Water & Ocean Governance Programme, Andrew Hudson said that GloBallast Partnerships had delivered “a series of important achievements in reducing the transfer of harmful aquatic organisms through ships’ ballast water” and expects that GloFouling Partnerships will provide “an excellent opportunity to help tackle one of the key remaining vectors for the transfer of invasive aquatic species.”

Senior environmental specialist from the GEF Chris Severin agreed. “The implementation of the GloFouling Partnerships will lead to healthier more robust marine ecosystems [and] positively impact economic opportunities and the livelihoods of millions of people across the globe,” he said. “I am confident it will be another success in the fruitful partnership between the GEF, UNDP and IMO”.

• The full name of the new project will be ‘Building Partnerships to Assist Developing Countries to Minimize the Impacts from Aquatic Biofouling’, shortened to ‘GloFouling Partnerships’.