The Permanent Commission for the South Pacific (CPPS), together with the GloFouling Partnerships project, has organized a virtual regional workshop on the effective management of marine biofouling. This was the first meeting of a working group bringing together key stakeholders at the regional level related to biofouling to discuss its contribution to two of the major environmental issues of our time: invasive aquatic species and greenhouse gas emissions. The objective of the workshop was to discuss the challenges and opportunities related to the inclusion of a strategy in the existing regional action plan on invasive aquatic species that will serve to implement the IMO Biofouling Guidelines.
Marine biofouling has been identified as one of the key pathways for the transfer of aquatic invasive species. Biofouling is the accumulation of microorganisms, plants, algae or small animals on any surface within the sea, causing structural or mechanical impairments. The introduction of invasive species aquatic into marine environments has measurable effects on a multitude of marine and coastal economic sectors and on a wide range of ecosystem services.
The event was opened by Ambassador Méntor Villagómez, Secretary General of CPPS, who welcomed the many participants from CPPS member countries Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, as well as guests from Brazil, Mexico and Panama. During his speech, Ambassador Villagómez also highlighted the important contribution of effective biofouling management to improving the energy efficiency of ships and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the shipping industry.
On behalf of IMO, Mr. Carlos Salgado, Head of the Section for Latin America and the Caribbean, highlighted the report published this year by United Nations, the Global Ocean Assessment, which identifies biofouling as one of the main vectors for the transfer of invasive aquatic species and calls for a proactive management, since the eradication of invasive species, once introduced, is practically impossible.
During the event, participants were briefed on initiatives carried out in the region to date, as well as the experience of the Galapagos Islands National Park (Dr. Inti Keith, Charles Darwin Foundation) and international legal framework on biofouling (Mr. John Alonso, IMO-GloFouling).
At the end of the meeting, the participants agreed to organize a follow-up workshop in 2022 to discuss in more detail the update of the action plan and define the main objectives to be achieved at the regional level.