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Latin America moves towards improved marine biosecurity

Updated: Oct 4, 2022

Last week saw the first meeting of a task force to develop a Regional strategy and Action plan on biofouling management in the Southeast Pacific (Latin America). Steered by the Comision Permanente del Pacifico Sudeste (CPPS) and IMO’s GloFouling Partnerships project, the event took place in Guayaquil, Ecuador, from 26 to 27 September, and included a mix of marine biology experts and policymakers representing CPPS partner countries (Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Peru), plus an additional two countries (Argentina and Mexico) that were invited to witness the discussions and contribute with their own experience. The resulting regional action plan includes multiple activities on different aspects of biofouling management to be implemented in the next five years and is expected to support actions already in place to prevent ballast water-mediated invasions and contribute to marine biosecurity across the region.

Later in the week, and already in support of the newly developed action plan, a cross collaboration between CPPS, the Smithsonian Institution and IMO, brought together marine biologists from the five coastal countries in the Southeast Pacific for a practical training on an harmonised methodology for sampling fouling species in ports. All participants were able to pull out settlement plates planted earlier at two different ports located south of Guayaquil, and then perform two types of analysis.

Dr Gail Ashton, from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Centre, and Dr. Inti Keith, from the Charles Darwin Foundation, guided participants through a morphological review of the samples to identify and classify species based on their taxonomy, and then explained two different methods to prepare samples for an eDNA analysis. Each country will now replicate the same survey in their national ports, applying the standardised sampling methodology that will help to establish a baseline of existing species and to monitor future effectiveness of biofouling management policies.

Finally, in another meeting held during the same week, IMO met representatives from the National Park of the Galapagos Islands, the Charles Darwin Foundation, the Galapagos Biosecurity and Quarantine Control Agency (ABG), the Ecuadorian Ministry of Environment Water and Ecological Transition, the Coast Guard and Marine Environment Agency (DIRNEA) and CPPS to plan an international workshop on prevention, early detection and rapid response to invasive aquatic species transferred through biofouling on ships in marine protected areas (MPAs). A key contribution from the GEF-UNDP-IMO GloFouling Partnerships, the global event is scheduled for next year and will focus on practical demonstrations of methods and technologies applied to marine biosecurity in MPAs.


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