GloFouling: water sports is also concerned by the spread of invasive species

Tapio Lehtinen's hull at the finish of her round-the-world sailing tour (Golden Globe Race) © Christophe Favreau

The IMO wants to fight the spread of invasive species by ships from one end of the world to the other. A subject that does not only concern merchant ships, but also pleasure craft. METSTrade is taking advantage of this opportunity to raise awareness among boating professionals of good practices.

Fouling and invasive species: a risk for biodiversity

Mariners have long protected their boats from colonization by dirt and marine organisms, known as fouling in English. After the first brass plates were already attached to the hulls of wooden military ships in the 18th century, various methods were developed. The most commonly used today is antifouling paint, whose composition prevents the implantation of organisms thanks to a biocide. All specialists are now thinking about alternatives that have less impact on the environment.

The initial objective of the sailors was to limit the ageing of the vessel and to maintain the best performance first under sail and then by motor. But the development of shipping in the 20th century has raised new challenges. The organisms installed on the ship's living works, or in the ballast tanks, are transported from one sea to another, from one ecosystem to another in different climatic zones of the planet. Invasive species have colonized some regions, causing the extinction of endemic species and destabilizing ecosystems. The challenge for marine biodiversity is essential. The consequences for ships are also significant. Zebra mussels obstruct ship intakes, while green algae pose health problems.

GloFouling, an international program for fouling management

To address the situation, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has launched the international GloFouling programme. This is a 5-year operation, financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Its objective is to raise awareness among stakeholders of good practices to combat hull fouling and thus protect marine biodiversity by preventing the spread of invasive species. By keeping the hulls clean, the reduction in fuel consumption also reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

METSTrade wants to raise awareness of yachting

While the majority of international maritime crossings are commercial, pleasure boating has its role to play in the fight against the phenomenon. ICOMIA and World Sailing are partners of Glofouling. This is also the conviction of METSTrade, which will organise a conference on the subject at its trade fair on 19 November 2019. Experts will highlight good practices for water sports and yachting professionals, yards or crews, in particular through the cleaning and rinsing of equipment before transit or the preparation and application methods of antifouling paints.

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