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Launch of in-water cleaning standard to reduce biofouling

Photo: GAC hullwipergac.jpg
Bimco and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) have published the first industry standard on in-water cleaning of ships in order to prevent transfer of invasive species to local marine environments.

“This standard will help protect the environment in the port,” says Bimco secretary general David Loosley, as well as “ensure that the end result is both a clean ship, and safe working practice.”

The move is intended to provide confidence to cleaning companies, shipowners and ports alike “that underwater hull cleaning can be completed with minimal risk to the environment by independently approved cleaning companies working to proven high standards,” adds John Stawpert of the ICS. 

Biofouling management has become a high-priority issue in many countries in recent years - as evidenced by the GloFouling Partnerships Project involving the IMO launched in December 2018.

While regular removing of organisms such as barnacles from the hull is seen as an important assist to a ship’s fuel efficiency and therefore CO2 emissions profile, at the same time in-water cleaning has been identified as potentially as great a threat to marine biodiversity as already-regulated ballast water discharge.  

Under the new industry standard, at least 90% of the macro fouling must be captured by the cleaning company, and effluent water coming back into the sea will have removed organisms and materials down to a microscopic size (0.000001 metres).

BIMCO IWC Infographic.jpg

The standard details planning, the documentation and assessment part of the operation, as well as the actual cleaning, the management of the effluent – the water involved in the cleaning – including the capture of particles, before it is released back into the sea.

The standard also includes:

  • Criteria for the cleanliness of water pumped back to sea
  • Methods to help shipowners act before the biofouling growth and coverage become severe
  • An approval procedure for cleaning companies
  • Minimum reporting requirements
  • Minimum requirements for an inspection, service and cleaning reports

Testing of the standards will now take place among different industry participants including paint manufacturers, in-water cleaning companies, shipowners, ports, and classification societies.

The standard and the accompanying approval procedure is now available on the Bimco and ICS websites. 



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