The IMO Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response has approved revised guidelines for the control and management of ships’ biofouling to minimise the transfer of invasive aquatic species. It came during the Sub-Committee’s 10th session held last week and follows a comprehensive review of the guidelines. Biofouling is the accumulation of aquatic organisms on wetted or immersed surfaces such as ships and other offshore structures. Good biofouling management can help protect marine biodiversity by preventing the transfer of invasive aquatic species. Keeping a ship’s hull clean can also reduce the ship’s greenhouse gas emissions by improving fuel efficiency. The 2023 guidelines will be submitted to the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 80) for adoption. The Sub-Committee also agreed to develop guidance on in-water cleaning at a future session and invited Member States and international organisations to submit relevant information on best practices for biofouling inspections and cleaning actions.
The biofouling guidelines were first adopted in 2011.The GEF-UNDP-IMO GloFouling Partnerships Project and the related TEST Biofouling Project support developing countries to implement the guidelines. Other topics on the PPR 10 agenda included the seaborne carriage of plastic pellets in freight containers and operational guidance on the response to spills of hazardous and noxious substances.