The Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) is an independent, interdisciplinary advisory body, that guides the United Nations system on the scientific aspects of marine environmental protection and the sustainable use of the oceans. Instigated by the GloFouling Partnerships Project, the International Maritime Organization, IOC-UNESCO and UNDP have sponsored the establishment of GESAMP Working Group 44 on biofouling and non-indigenous species.
The first meeting of the group was recently held over the course of three days from 19 to 21 October 2020, using virtual tools. The Chair of the Group, Dr. Katja Broeg, highlighted that the "meeting was only possible thanks to the great constructive work and contribution from all the members. The group comprises experts from all sectors and invasion biology, representing a broad age spectrum, it is gender equal, and brings knowledge from all around the world. Even though we are the first GESAMP group which had to start its work virtually and thus, develop a new working mode, we succeeded by drafting the outline of the report based on intense discussion on the terms of reference.”
Dr. Katja Broeg: "the meeting was only possible thanks to the great constructive work and contribution from all the members"
The aim of the GESAMP group is to develop a comprehensive study on the impact on marine environment of invasive aquatic species transported through biofouling. The report will contribute to a better understanding of the role played by the different ocean industries as pathways and how they are also affected. On describing their approach to the work, Dr. Broeg highlighted that “scientists from all continents will gather state of the art scientific knowledge on the role of all maritime sectors regarding introduction and spread of non-native biofouling species, on their impact on biodiversity, economy, and health, and on concepts, strategies, technologies, and regulation to sustainably manage biofouling. By doing that, GESAMP WG 44 supports UN objectives like the SDG14, as well as IMO with its review of the Biofouling Guidelines currently conducted by its Member States.”
The drafting of the report will start after the meeting during the intersessional sessions in close cooperation between the chair, vice chairs and leads of the drafting groups. By the end of the year, an interim report will be delivered to GESAMP which will include the outline of the report and the status of the work.