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A newly signed project is set to provide pilot projects in developing countries in order to demonstrate technical solutions for biofouling management, address the transfer of invasive aquatic species and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships.

The TEST (Transfer of Environmentally Sound Technologies) Biofouling Project will run for four years (2022-2025), following an agreement signed by IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad). Norad funding amounts to around US$4 million.

The project complements the existing Global Environment Facility (GEF)/United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)/IMO GloFouling Partnerships Project, which aims to support its lead partnering and partnering countries to implement IMO’s Biofouling Guidelines.

The TEST Biofouling Project will focus on demonstrating technical solutions in the GloFouling partner countries. TEST Biofouling will feature some of the latest advances in technological solutions for managing biofouling, such as remote operated vehicles for in-water cleaning and underwater cameras for monitoring anti-fouling coating status. Additionally, the project will provide capacity building courses in developing countries.

Lim said, “I am pleased to sign this agreement with Norad for the TEST Biofouling Project. We need to showcase solutions to today’s challenges, including preserving the oceans’ biodiversity and tackling climate change. In 2022, IMO’s World Maritime Theme will be ‘New technologies for greener shipping’, so it is particularly pertinent to launch a project which is going to focus on demonstrating just what can be done. This project will work with developing countries, ensuring that they can lead in demonstrating solutions.”

The preliminary results of a recent study on the Impact of Ships’ Biofouling on Greenhouse Gas Emissions shows that a layer of slime as thin as 0.5 mm covering up to 50% of a hull surface can trigger an increase of GHG emissions in the range of 20 to 25%, depending on ship characteristics, speed and other prevailing conditions. The study was carried out by the Global Industry Alliance (GIA) for Marine Biosafety, which operates under the framework of the GEF-UNDP-IMO GloFouling Partnerships project.