Shipping association BIMCO is currently working on the draft for a global set of guidelines for ship hull cleaning to protect the marine environment.
According to BIMCO, currently there is no common global standard for cleaning ships’ hulls to avoid transferring invasive aquatic species, nor for the potentially damaging debris washed off in the process and a global standard is essential to ensure that hull cleaning can be carried out in a safe and environmentally sustainable way in the future.
“The new in-water cleaning standard puts great emphasis on capturing what is removed from the ship, thereby ensuring that the marine environment is not negatively affected. We believe that a global standard will create much needed transparency along with economic and environmental benefits for shipowners, ports, port authorities and in-water cleaning companies,” said Aron Sørensen, BIMCO’s head of marine environment.
Currently, countries as well as regions such as Hawaii and California, have already implemented regulation on biofouling on ships arriving in their waters, or are in the process of doing so.
“If you don’t have global standards, the shipowner can’t know if a supplier in one country – the in-water cleaning company – has done a good job. Furthermore, the port authorities lack a common method to evaluate in-water cleaning companies,” Sørensen added.
The approval standard is still under development and ultimately, BIMCO would apply with IMO for adoption of the standard. BIMCO expects the process would take two to three years.
“At the stage we are now, we need to engage with industry experts, governments, scientists and port authorities before we finalize the in-water cleaning standard,” Sørensen said.