Shipping – Marine biofouling

For shipping, marine biofouling is the accumulation of biological matter on the surface of submerged objects such as pier pylons and ship hulls. Over four thousand marine species were identified as biofouling organisms for shipping. Biofouling on marine vessels reduces their speed and increases their weight, leading to reductions in the maneuverability of the vessels.

One of the major threats to the world’s oceans and to the conservation of biodiversity was identified as the introduction of invasive aquatic species to new environments by ships. Marine invasive that is carried in a ship’s hull or ballast water outcompetes native species by multiplying into pest proportions. Biofouling is a vector for bioinvasions as algae, plants, microorganisms, and animals are found on submerged structures.

Biofouling can cause an increase in fuel consumption, which has been estimated to be as much as a 40% increase. To deter biofouling, many shipping companies have started to use antifouling paints and make use of other methods that would keep to the standards of the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention. Marine antifouling paints are highly specialized coatings used to protect ship hulls from biofouling, by distributing active compounds in a controlled manner.

Except for Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, all nations in the subregions have signed onto the Ballast Water Convention of the International Maritime Organization. This means that all ships registered under the flags of these nations must manage their ballast water so that aquatic organisms and pathogens are either rendered harmless or removed completely before ballast water is released into a new location. This convention is a global approach to providing information on general procedures to mitigate the risks associated with biofouling for all types of vessels. Shipping as a vector carries a risk for marine invasives and treatment of ballast water can minimize the risks.

In the Caribbean region, a series of policy briefs providing information to decision-makers on the actions needed to address the problem of invasive alien species was published. These policy briefs include a listing of possible marine invasives that may enter the region through areas like shipping, aquarium releases, aquaculture, or fisheries. Additionally, a survey conducted for[GU2]  Barbados and the OECS would help to predict the pattern of marine invasive species with rising seawater temperatures caused by global warming. Risk assessments should be prioritized for the implementation and monitoring of eradication or control programmes. Read more from our policy brief, ‘’ Prevention and Management of Marine invasive alien Species in the Caribbean’’.

Read more from our sources below!


ScienceDirect – Marine Biofouling

AMSA – Biofouling and in-water cleaning

Caribbean Invasives – Marine Risk Assessment Report

Policy Brief – Prevention and Management of Marine invasive alien Species in the Caribbean

IMO – Biofouling