Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
A major five-year project to help protect marine biodiversity was commenced at a global workshop held at IMO HQ from 18 to 20 March.
The IMO-executed GloFouling Partnerships project1 will address bioinvasions by organisms which can build up on ships’ hulls and other marine structures.
This project is a collaboration between the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and IMO. Representatives from 12 lead partnering countries, four regional organizations, IOC-UNESCO, the World Ocean Council and numerous strategic partners attended its first Global Project Task Force meeting for the GloFouling Partnerships project.
In the words of Jose Matheickal, representing IMO’s Marine Environment Division: ‘This milestone event marks the real start of this exciting project, the first-ever globally coordinated effort to address biofouling – not just from shipping, but from all marine sectors.’
National administrations and regional IGOs will work with the project to analyse their needs and develop baseline and economic assessments that will help decision makers draft new policies or action plans to implement the Biofouling Guidelines issued by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 2011. To support this process, the project will manage demonstration sites, provide institutional capacity building and develop awareness-raising campaigns geared to all relevant maritime industries, including recreational boating.
Introduction of invasive aquatic organisms into new marine environments not only affects biodiversity and ecosystem health, but also has measurable adverse effects on a number of economic sectors such as fisheries, aquaculture and ocean energy. Addressing invasive aquatic species is not only a matter of ensuring the health and integrity of marine ecosystems, but ultimately about safeguarding ecosystem services that sustain the livelihoods of coastal communities across the globe. The GloFouling project will help meet a number of UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS), including SDG 14 on the oceans.
The London meeting heard status reports from the lead partnering countries, regional coordinating organizations and strategic partners. Discussions centred on shipping and also on other marine sectors such as ocean-based renewable energies, aquaculture, offshore structures and recreational activities, including sailing.
Participants exchanged views on some of the latest initiatives at the regional and global level related to biofouling and invasive aquatic species, notably World Sailing’s Sustainability Agenda, the work of the EU’s COMPLETE Project2, BIMCO’s plan for an in-water cleaning standard and BioFREE, a collaboration between Heriot-Watt University and the European Marine Energy Centre at the Orkney Islands testbed3.
The work plan for the project was discussed in detail, with special attention paid to the schedule of activities, development of a communication strategy to promote awareness of the issue of invasive aquatics species and the best strategy for securing participation from the private sector – to help overcome some of the barriers that have been identified to the adoption of new technologies.
The twelve countries spearheading the work of the GloFouling project represent a mix of developing nations and Small Island Developing States: Brazil, Ecuador, Fiji, Indonesia, Jordan, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Tonga. Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and Sweden also contribute to the project as strategic partners.
Some of the next steps expected from the GloFouling project will include setting up national task forces in the 12 participating countries and launching its own Global Industry Alliance for Marine Biosafety as a vehicle for enhanced partnership between the public sector and the maritime industry, and the alignment of public, NGO and commercial activities towards common goals.
Such a partnership between the GloFouling project and the private sector would continue a pioneering and successful initiative created in other IMO projects that has set out a lead example and model for public-private partnerships in addressing emerging global marine environmental issues, for example, the GloMEEP-GIA4.
The GEF, through UNDP, is providing a US$6.9 million grant to deliver a range of governance reforms at the national level, through numerous capacity-building activities, training workshops and opportunities for technology adoption to help address the issue of invasive species. Strong participation from private sector stakeholders is also expected.
While IMO will focus on shipping, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC) will join the three main partners (GEF, UNDP, IMO) to lead the approach to other marine sectors with a view to developing best practices that may address the transfer of invasive aquatic species through improved biofouling management. IOC-UNESCO will work hand-in-hand with the GloFouling project to increase awareness of this environmental challenge among key stakeholders. The World Ocean Council (WOC) will engage with, and channel the participation of the ocean business community and private sector partners for the development of best industry practices in non-shipping sectors, such as aquaculture and oil and gas extraction.
About the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC)
The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO supports ocean science and services worldwide by enabling its 149 Member States to work together to better understand and improve the management of the ocean, coasts and marine ecosystems.
By helping countries to build their scientific and institutional capacity, the IOC is contributing to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 and UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030). See also http://ioc.unesco.org
Our picture shows a Carnival line up. Five Carnival ships are due in Durban in week commencing 24 May. (Photo: www.africaports.co.za )
No less than five Carnival Cruise ships are due to arrive in Durban between 26 and 28 May to take on bunkers and to restock depleted supplies.
These five ships are part of a group of 12 engaged in the humanitarian task of repatriating over 26,000 crew from the Carnival fleet and other companies, as well as personnel from entertainment centres ashore, who because of the coronavirus pandemic, have had their employment suddenly curtailed.
Hotel staff and entertainers
These are the entertainment staff, the onboard shop workers, beauty salon practitioners, waiters and bus boys, chefs and kitchen staff, cabin cleaners, pursers and front desk people all making up the staff working on board cruise ships.
With cruising curtailed these former employees are finally returning home to destinations like India, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines after having remained on board their ships for more than two months, unable to go ashore or receive visitors ever since cruising operations were suspended in mid -March. Ahead they face another three or four weeks at sea before being allowed to disembark. However, there’s something of a problem.
Call to governments
IFSMA* calls upon Governments to adopt the ‘Framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the COVID-19 pandemic’ without delay to allow ship owners and management companies to change over their dangerously tired crews.
Governments must act now in order to avoid personal injury to, and mental breakdown of, seafarers and avoid the significant risk of accidents and consequential danger to life and the environment.
Concern at IFSMA
IFSMA is receiving an increasing number of reports from its ship masters’ associations around the world concerned for the welfare and safety of crews and the increased risk with which they are operating in an already high risk environment. Seafarers are feeling let down and abandoned by their Governments.
Following concerns from the maritime industry, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) issued a circular to all Member States, the UN and agencies and IGOs and NGOs in consultative status with IMO. This document concerned recommendations to Member States about measures to facilitate ship crew changes in seaports during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The IMO Secretary General has received a framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the pandemic, proposed by a cross-section of global industry associations in consultative status with the IMO, for example: ICS, IAPH, BIMCO, IFSMA, and P&I Clubs as well as the International Air Transport Association (IATA).