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The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has approved a new project concept known as the GloFouling Partnerships project in order to tackle the issue of transferring aquatic species through biofouling, which occurs when aquatic organisms start building up on a ship's underwater hull and structures.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) are involved in the project, which will help to protect marine ecosystems from the negative effects of invasive aquatic species.

GloFouling Partnerships is an abbreviation of the project's full name 'Building Partnerships to Assist Developing Countries to Minimise the Impacts from Aquatic Biofouling'.

The initiative is set to receive $6.9m in GEF funding, and will also promote the implementation of IMO’s guidelines for biofouling control and management.

 Additionally, it is expected to build developing countries' capacity to reduce the inter-boundary transfer of biofouling-mediated invasive aquatic species.

IMO Marine Environment Division director Stefan Micallef said: “IMO has been at the forefront of the international effort to tackle the transfer of invasive aquatic species via ships.

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By GlobalData
"IMO has been at the forefront of the international effort to tackle the transfer of invasive aquatic species by ships."

“Addressing ship’s hull fouling is a crucial step to protect marine biodiversity.

“The treatment of hulls to reduce fouling by aquatic organisms has the additional benefit of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, since the drag of ships is reduced.”

GloFouling Partnerships is currently undergoing a detailed preparation phase, and the project will be resubmitted to the GEF for endorsement and implementation following the completion of the preparatory works.

The IMO secretariat will prepare the GloFouling development, which is based on the GEF-UNDP-IMO GloBallast Partnerships project that was involved in capacity expansion that led to the implementation of IMO’s Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention.

Image: Hull biofouling view. Photo: courtesy of International Maritime Organization (IMO).