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Ship’s biofouling management reduces GHG emissions

Updated: Mar 1, 2023

According to the Fourth IMO Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Study 2020, shipping accounted for 2.89% of the global anthropogenic CO2 emissions in 2018. The Initial International Maritime Organization (IMO) strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships includes a level of ambition to reduce the total annual GHG emissions from international shipping by at least 50% by 2050 compared to

2008. In support of this goal, the Global Industry Alliance (GIA) for Marine Biosafety has commissioned a study to analyse the impact of ships’ biofouling on GHG

Emissions. The study found that under certain conditions, keeping ships’ hulls free from just a thin layer of slime could reduce a ship’s GHG emissions by up to 25 per cent (see full report).

To showcase the findings of this report and share the knowledge, the GIA for Marine Biosafety also commissioned the development of a short animation, which was launched during the MEPC 79 meeting held at IMO headquarters in London. It was presented on 13th December as a side event.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Jose Matheickal, Chief of Department of Partnerships and Projects at IMO, highlighted that it is “less known that ships’ biofouling is also responsible for GHG emissions, as it increases significantly drag and fuel consumption”, which is presented in the animation together with the available solutions to overcome it. He encouraged the maritime industry to consider biofouling management as one of the easy ways to save GHG emissions.

Watch full animation:

The GIA for Marine Biosafety is an initiative of IMO’s GloFouling Partnerships project, that brings together private sector companies from a wide range of ocean-based industries such as shipping, offshore oil and gas, cleaning technology and fouling prevention and control systems manufacturers, including anti-fouling coatings, in-water cleaning systems, and ultrasonic systems, that are willing to lead their respective sectors towards sustainable and practical solutions for biofouling management.

The GIA for Marine Biosafety also ceased the opportunity to hold its 9th meeting, on the same day, in hybrid format with some members joining remotely. This meeting has marked the end of Mr. Yusik Kim (Chief Executive Officer, Tas Global) one year mandate as a Chair of the GIA and the beginning of a newly elected Chair, Mr. Simon Doran (Managing Director, HullWiper).

Upon receiving his congratulations Mr. Doran expressed his gratitude to the work done by his predecessors and his intention to “be a coherent voice for the GIA for Marine Biosafety with its mission to support two key IMO pressing environmental objectives via improved biofouling management”, namely to protect marine biodiversity and decarbonize shipping.

The GIA also welcomed its two newest members Armach Robotics and Jotun (read more), and agreed on new activities for 2023, including the translation of the launched animation into several languages for higher outreach and impact, and to commission the production of a long-feature audio-visual – a continuation of the animation – to also reflect the impacts of invasive species introduced via biofouling, with particular emphasis on the human and environmental elements and showing examples such as: the impact of invasive coral on local species; impact of invasive bivalve on women shellfish collectors; biosecurity measures in Marine Protected Areas; and management of biofouling and impact of invasive species in port areas.

Biofouling is the accumulation of microorganisms, slime, plants, algae, or small animals on ships’ hull and other wetted surfaces. In addition to the irreversible affects it can have for marine biodiversity by introducing potentially Invasive Aquatic Species into new environments, biofouling also increases the drag of ships, forcing to burn more fuel to maintain speed and contribute to the higher GHG emission.



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