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Invasive species have contributed to more than half of all global species extinctions in modern era

The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) have completed a four year long survey, reviewing 13,000 sources that capture biodiversity of existing knowledge on invasive alien species. It has been prepared by 86 international experts from 49 countries, representing all regions of the world. The report released in September 2023 presents the latest evidence about the status and trends of invasive alien species and outlines options for decision-makers to choose appropriate management and governance responses.

In maritime industry ballast water has been historically recognized as the major pathway for invasive aquatic species introduction. However IPBES report have highlighted that an estimated 70 percent of marine invasive infestations are connected to biofouling via ships’ hull. In New Zealand, authorities estimate that biofouling is responsible for all but three percent of local problems with marine invasive species, and hull fouling is tightly controlled by national laws [1].

It has been highlighted that preventing the introductions of invasive alien species is the most cost-effective management option. The threat of invasive alien species could be reduced with closer collaboration and coordination across sectors and governments to support the management of biological invasions.

GloFouling Partnerships project has developed a series of guides for governments to evaluate the current status of biofouling management to minimize the introduction of invasive aquatic species in the country, to evaluate the economic impacts it may have and also on how to develop national strategies and action plans.

All twelve Lead Partnering Countries of the Project are currently reviewing the economic impacts and are developing national policies on how to manage biofouling in order to prevent the introduction of potentially invasive aquatic species, when the actual status assessments have been completed by all in 2020-2022.

IPBES report is highlighting biofouling as a major pathway for introduction of invasive aquatic species in the marine environment. The Member States of International Maritime Organization understanding the role of biofouling, during the Marine Environment Protection Committee 80th session (MEPC 80) in July 2023 have adopted 2023 Guidelines for the Control and Management of Ships' Biofouling to Minimize the Transfer of Invasive Aquatic Species (resolution MEPC.378(80)) – a revision of 2011 Biofouling Guidelines. The revised guidelines are due to be published soon. Read here more about it.

The Project have also developed a training course on “Introduction to biofouling: impacts and management of risks”, which is freely available to all interested on IMO eLearning platform.

To download IPBES report see here.

Video and report photo credit: IPBES

Article cover photo credit: IISD/ENB: Anastasia Rodopoulou


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