Updated: Nov 28, 2022
A Partnership for Environment Management in the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) Regional Task Force meeting took place (23-25 November) in Manila, the Philippines, hosted by Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA). The goal of the meeting is to advance towards the establishment of a regional strategy to manage biofouling in the East Asian Seas, to minimize the introduction of Invasive Aquatic Species (IAS).
The strategy is one of PEMSEA’s commitments to GEF-UNDP-IMO GloFouling Partnerships project as a Regional Organization. The GloFouling Partnerships project is a collaboration between IMO, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to protect marine ecosystems from the negative effects of IAS introduced via biofouling.
Biofouling is the accumulation of aquatic organisms on wetted or immersed surfaces such as ships and other offshore structures. The spread of IAS due to biofouling is agreed to be a serious threat to marine biodiversity. The increase in the roughness of a ship’s hull due to biofouling also leads to increased Greenhouse Gas Emissions.
Task Force meeting is a forum for member states to provide National Level updates on their
progress in this area. It is also a chance to consider any global updates from the shipping industry as well as to hear about the latest developments in the biofouling research sector. Yusik Kim Chief Executive Officer of TAS GLOBAL, who is also the chair of Global Industry Alliance for Marine Biosafety, presented recent developments in biofouling removal technology. Guillaume Drillet, Chair of Global TestNet (a strategic partner of GloFouling Partnerships) spoke about standardization and testing of Biofouling.
The event in Manila is the third PEMSEA Regional meeting but the first to be held in-person as
well as remotely. Prior to this event, two meetings were held virtually: a regional awareness seminar in June 2021 and the Regional Task Force’s first meeting in April 2022, at which the Task Force was formerly established , and first discussions were held on the regional biofouling management strategy and action plan.
The PEMSEA scheme is part of the GloFouling Partnerships project’s drive to work with as many countries as possible in the region via partner regional organisations. It also encourages a coordinated approach across the region in the management of biofouling.
To enrich the knowledge a side event - visit to Josefa Slipways port facilities, was organized. During which the participants had the opportunity to witness ship's hull cleaning first hand together with a more detailed presentation of the work at the facilities.
Southeast Asia is the fourth region to see the establishment of a regional task force and the development of a regional strategy. The next area to benefit from such a program is due to be the Pacific region (in collaboration with SPREP) in 2023.
The project also collaborates with UNEP/IMO REMPEC to facilitate the replication in the Mediterranean region of national activities conducted by Lead Partnering Countries under the project . And it has plans to engage with UNEP’s Regional seas programme to reach out to western and central African countries.
In addition to PEMSEA country partners, those attending include the Philippines and Indonesia (both GloFouling Partnerships Lead Partnering Countries) plus, representing IMO, Lilia Khodjet El Khil and Ernesta Swanepoel, a consultant on international environmental law.
PEMSEA member states that have attended the Regional Task Force meeting are Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Timor-Leste and Vietnam. When Thailand and Malaysia attended as observers.
PEMSEA plans to present its regional biofouling strategy at the 15th EAS Partnership Council in July 2023, and to incorporate anti-biofouling activities into the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia (SDS SEA) Implementation Plan 2023-2027.
IMO is expected to present the biofouling strategy at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Maritime Transport Working Group meeting in March 2024 (date to be confirmed). ASEAN members include Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.