The IMO has started a five-year project to help protect marine biodiversity – the first globally coordinated effort to address biofouling.
The GloFouling Partnerships 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 attended the first Global Project Task Force meeting.
Participants will develop baseline data and economic assessments to inform action plans for the implementation of the IMO Biofouling Guidelines issued in 2011.
The 12 countries are: Brazil, Ecuador, Fiji, Indonesia, Jordan, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Tonga. Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and Sweden also contribute to the project as strategic partners.
Some of the next steps expected from the GloFouling project will include setting up national task forces in the 12 participating countries and launching of a Global Industry Alliance for Marine Biosafety. The GEF, through UNDP, is providing a $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.
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. The World Ocean Council (WOC) will channel the participation of the ocean business community and private sector partners for the development of best industry practices in non-shipping sectors, such as aquaculture and oil and gas extraction.
The GloFouling project will help meet a number of U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS), including SDG 14 on the oceans.
Other biofouling initiatives already underway include the World Sailing’s Sustainability Agenda, the work of the E.U.’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.