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 ships from colonization by fouling and marine organisms, known as fouling in English. After the first copper plates were already fixed to the hulls of wooden military ships in the 18th century, various methods were developed. The most widely used today is the so-called 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 sailors' initial objective was to limit the ageing of the vessel and to maintain the best performance first under sail and then under engine. But the development of navigation in the 20th century has brought new challenges. The organisms installed on the ship's keel 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 thus colonized certain regions, leading to the disappearance of endemic species and destabilizing ecosystems. The stakes for marine biodiversity are high. The consequences on ships are also important. The zebra mussel obstructs ships' water intakes, while green algae poses health problems.

GloFouling, an international program for fouling management

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

METSTrade wants to raise awareness of boating

While the majority of international sea crossings are commercial, yachting has a role to play in combating 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 exhibition on 19 November 2019. Experts will highlight best practices for professionals in the nautical and leisure boating industry, yards or crews, particularly through the cleaning and rinsing of equipment before transit or the preparation and application methods of antifouling paints.