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IMO INAUGURATES GLOBAL BIOFOULING PROJECT

Monday, March 25, 2019 

A major five-year project to help protect marine biodiversity has been kick-started at a global workshop at IMO Headquarters in London.

The IMO-executed GloFouling Partnerships project will address bioinvasions by organisms which can build up on ships’ hulls and other marine structures. The project is a collaboration between the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and IMO. Representatives from 12 lead partnering countries, four regional organizations, IOC-UNESCO, the World Ocean Council and numerous strategic partners, including BIMCO, attended its first Global Project Task Force meeting for the GloFouling Partnerships project -

“This milestone event marks the real start of this exciting project, the first-ever globally coordinated effort to address biofouling - not just from shipping, but from all marine sectors,” said Jose Matheickal, representing IMO’s Marine Environment Division.

National administrations and regional IGOs will work with the project to analyse their needs and develop baseline and economic assessments that will help decision makers draft new policies or action plans to implement the Biofouling Guidelines issued by IMO in 2011. To support this process, the project will manage demonstration sites, provide institutional capacity building and develop awareness-raising campaigns geared to all relevant maritime industries.

Participants exchanged views on some of the latest initiatives at the regional and global level related to biofouling and invasive aquatic species, notably World Sailing’s Sustainability Agenda, the work of the EU’s COMPLETE Project, BIMCO’s plan for an in-water cleaning standard and BioFREE, a collaboration between Heriot-Watt University and the European Marine Energy Centre at the Orkney Islands testbed.

Some of the next steps expected from the GloFouling project will include setting up national task forces in the 12 participating countries and launching its own Global Industry Alliance for Marine Biosafety as a vehicle for enhanced partnership between the public sector and the maritime industry, and the alignment of public, NGO and commercial activities towards common goals. The GEF, through UNDP, 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.

While IMO will focus on shipping, 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. 

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