Updated: Sep 21, 2020
The GEF-UNDP-IMO GloFouling Partnerships launched the first edition of its Research and Development Forum and Exhibition on Biofouling Management (the R&D Forum) with an ambitious programme that covered a wide range of aspects related to biofouling management, including regulations, the impacts of non-indigenous species and the impact of biofouling on ship efficiency. The R&D Forum is expected to become the biennial signature event at the global level to discuss all issues related to marine biofouling as a vector for the transfer of invasive aquatic species.
On this occasion, the event took place in Melbourne, Australia, from 1 to 4 October 2019, and shared its programme with the 4th ANZPAC Workshop on Biofouling Management, one of the main events on biofouling management in the region. The R&D Forum brought together more than 170 participants from 30 countries including regulators, lead partnering countries of the GloFouling Partnerships, scientists and researchers, representatives of the shipping industry and technology developers.
After a brief welcome from the organizers, represented by Mr. John Lewis (ANZPAC) and Mr. John Alonso (GloFouling), the event was opened by Mr. Theofanis Karayannis, on behalf of IMO, and Ms. Lyn O’Connell, Deputy Secretary of the Australian Department of Agriculture. Mr. Karayannis highlighted the importance of bringing together scientific experts and academia with the maritime industry and leaders in technology development as an effective way to promote information exchange and foster a dialogue between key stakeholders for a harmonized implementation of IMO's Biofouling Guidelines.
From her part, Ms. O’Connell briefly described the work that has been carried out by her Government to develop a national policy to promote best biofouling management practices, and how this ties in with the fact that Australia, as an island nation, relies heavily on its marine environment and industries for food, trade and livelihoods, and how biosecurity was intrinsically related to their sustainability. Ms. O´Connell praised the value of this kind of global conferences, as they offered "... a wonderful opportunity for learning, sharing and solving mutual problems in the management of biofouling".
The first day of the Forum started with two sessions that focused on the impacts of invasive and non-indigenous species, with special attention to their role in anthropogenic alteration of ecosystems and as pathways for the spread of diseases and pathogens. Nina Blocher, from SINTEF, provided some specific examples on how biofouling causes an increased risk of diseases due to the elevated presence of parasite pathogens associated with the fouling species. There may also be a direct health risk associated with fouling species, for example through gill injuries. Additionally, the challenges related to the different options currently in use for cleaning aquaculture nets were also discussed briefly.
The afternoon focused on biofouling regulations and requirements and included a discussion panel with representatives from the Australian Department of Agriculture, New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries, the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States, Transport Canada, the Maritime Authority of Chile and California State Lands Commission. The interventions aimed to compare the current status of national regulations and requirements on biofouling management and discussed the different approaches and challenges for enforcement.
More photos of the event may be found in the GloFouling Flickr gallery.