Fiji and Tonga have spearheaded the 12 Lead Partnering Countries (LPCs) of the GloFouling Partnerships by hosting the first national workshops to review the programme of work and convey potential members of national task forces.
In Tonga, Mr. Ringo Fa’oliu, CEO of the Ministry of Infrastructure, inaugurated the event and expressed his country’s hope that more activities will follow in the near future, particularly since Tonga has recently come out from its first Mandatory State Audit. Mrs. Kelela Tonga, the National Focal Point, also highlighted that this event organised by the GEF-UNDP-IMO GloFouling Partnerships was in fact the first-ever national workshop organised by IMO in the Kingdom of Tonga.
In Fiji, Captain Phillip Hill, CEO of the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji, MSAF, commented that the work initiated by GloFouling was quite timely, since it coincided with the confirmation that a new invasive species had been detected in Fijian. Capt Hill mentioned that “it was an inch-long prawn that drills itself into wood or fiberglass hulls”, potentially compromising the structural stability of ships
Both national meetings were attended by representatives from a wide range of government institutions and the private sector, such as the ministries of environment, fisheries, transport and infrastructure, port authority, biosecurity, port state control officers, dry docks, shipping agents and operators. Strong support was provided by the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. One of the exercises of the participants was to review the institutions and stakeholders that should be contacted to take part in their National Task Force, to be set up in the coming months. The role of the national task forces will be to oversee the development of a strategy and action plan to implement IMO’s Biofouling Guidelines and best practices for other maritime industries.
During the next few months the GloFouling Partnerships will continue to organize similar national workshops in the remaining Lead Partnering Countries.