Biofouling: NIMASA Sensitize African Nations on Tackling Translocation of Harmful Aquatic Species

The Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh OFR (middle); the Secretary General, African Shipowners Association, Funmi Folorunso (2nd from right); the Secretary General, Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control for West and Central African Region (Abuja MoU), Capt. Sunday Umoren; with other guests during the opening session of the 3-day MTCC Africa Biofouling Management Training in Lagos, on Monday.

By DAPO OLAWUNI

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) on Monday commenced a 3-day workshop in partnership with the Maritime Technology Cooperation Center (MTCC) on how to assist developing countries advance their knowledge about and facilitate the implementation of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Biofouling Guidelines owing to the complexity of biofouling management and the technologies available.

DAILY TREND reports that the translocation of harmful aquatic species from one region to another by ships is known as Biofouling.

Biofouling makes it harder for ships to maneuver and stay on course, increasing fuel consumption and Green House Gas emissions (GHG). Over time, these emissions can add up and contribute significantly to climate change.

African countries participating at the workshop include; Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti, Comoros, Mauritius among others.

In his keynote address at the workshop, the Director General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh said that these harmful organisms attached themselves to the outer surface and niche areas of a ship, and are then translocated from one ecoregion to another.

According to him, the process by which these organisms attached themselves to the ship and other surfaces is referred to as Biofouling.

He said that when these non indigenous marine – species are introduced into an ecoregion, they possess the ability to outcompete the native ones, thereby threatening their existence, biodiversity and national food security resulting in huge social and economic impact.

Dr Jamoh said “Biofouling poses a huge threat to Nigeria’s transition to the Blue Economy as it incurs environmental burdens such as low productivity, biodiversity, lower resilience to climate change and economic burdens including financial loss due to low productivity, huge prevention and control costs, in addition to increased operational cost of offshore infrastructures among others.

“Consequently, to prevent the menace ascribed to biofouling in our waters, Nigeria has adopted the IMO Guideline for the Control and Management of Ship’s Biofouling which is an international instrument aimed at addressing and maintaining the efficiency, safety and environmental sustainability of our maritime operations as well as prevent the spread of invasive species in our waters.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, technological advancements have led to some innovative solutions by experts to aid the control and mitigate the impact of biofouling. However, some of these technologies exhibit complexity in the course of their application.

“This workshop on Test Biofouling Project is an initiative of the IMO in close partnership with the Maritime Technology Cooperation Center (MTCC) to assist developing countries advance their knowledge about and facilitate the implementation of the IMO Biofouling Guidelines owing to the complexity of biofouling management and the technologies available.

“This session will involve showcasing the newest technologies, their application including cost-effective practices and related benefits for the environment and efficiency of shipping”

Also, Ms Lydia Ngugi, Head MTCC Africa, said the aim and mandate of the MTCC was to build capacity for climate change mitigation in the shipping and maritime industry in Africa.

“We are here to deliberate and have technical workshop on the test biofouling programme that they are running in conjunction with partnering countries and Nigeria is one of them. We have representatives from Comoros and Somalia.

“With regards to technology, IMO has in place the biofouling guidelines and its aim is to ensure that there is sustainable development world over especially in the shipping industry and this is linked to the United Nations Development Goals.

“With regards to the scope, we all know that a healthy ocean is good for the entire environment as well as the shipping industry,” Ngugi said.

Dr Jose Matheickal, Director, Department of Partnerships and Projects, IMO, said Nigeria had contributed significantly to IMO’s previous policies.

Matheickal also urged Nigeria to follow suit with biofouling guidelines.

“The event is very meaningful and serves as a platform for information sharing and there is the need for collaboration and coordination from stakeholders,” he said.

Commenting, Ms Funmi Folorunso, the President, African Shipowners Association, urged all the stakeholders to take biofouling very serious.

Folorunso noted that biofouling works against shipowners that fly African flags, stressing that the outcome of the meeting would centre on ways to mitigate its effect.

Dr Oma Ofodile, Deputy Director, Marine Environment Management Department, NIMASA and MTCC Africa Focal Point, urged all participants not to be left behind on the IMO call for zero emissions by 2050.

“NIMASA has done a lot to reduce emissions and the training is one of the ways to close the gap of emission from vessels,” Ofodile said.

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