The introduction and establishment of invasive aquatic species is considered to be one of the greatest threats to the world’s freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems. In addition, the global economic impacts of invasive species, including through disruption to fisheries, biofouling of coastal industry, infrastructure and interference with human amenity, have been estimated at several hundred million dollars per year. The main vectors for unintentional transfer of non-indigenous species are ships' ballast water, biofouling of mobile marine structures, and aquaculture.
The GloFouling Partnerships project - a collaboration between the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), was launched in December 2018. Its main goals are: to raise awareness of how to protect marine biodiversity from the introduction of non-indigenous species into new ecosystems through biofouling; and to provide capacity building activities to the participating countries. Biofouling is the process by which marine organisms can build up on ships' hulls and the surface of other marine structures.
Since the launch of the project twenty-five Member States expressed their interest to take part, out of which twelve countries were selected as Lead Partnering Countries (LPCs) and the remaining thirteen will participate in the project as Partnering Countries (PCs) at the regional level. In the first year of the project nine LPCs (Brazil, Fiji, Indonesia, Jordan, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Philippines and Tonga) have hosted their first National Workshops and as a result established their National Task Forces (NTFs). In early 2020 the remaining three LPCs (Ecuador, Peru and Sri Lanka) will host their first meetings. Each LPC’s National Task Force will define a national policy on biofouling and invasive aquatic species, and will draft the national strategy and action plan to implement the IMO Biofouling Guidelines.
For a broader approach GloFouling Partnerships is working with seven regions (South America, South Asia, Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, Pacific, Eastern Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Wider Caribbean). This approach will help to deliver outputs more broadly within target regions and to deliver sustainable biofouling management measures beyond the life of the GloFouling Partnerships project.
Simultaneously other activities are being and will be implemented throughout the duration of the project, these include:
- A creation of a knowledge hub, which holds a pool of research documents, regulations and other information on biofouling;
- Organization of Research and Development (R&D) Forums on biofouling management and invasive aquatic species. The purpose of these international conferences is to bring together regulatory bodies, maritime industries, academia, leading scientific experts and technology development leaders in the field of biofouling management for a comprehensive overview;
- GloFouling Partnerships will establish and work closely with a Global Industry Alliance (GIA). Members of GIA will support improved biofouling management and marine biosafety initiatives via collectively identifying and developing innovative solutions;
- In addition to many other activities that are planned to be carried out, the project will also develop promotional material such as animations and leaflets to raise awareness on biofouling and invasive aquatic species.