Given that biofouling is gaining much attention from states, shipowners, and port authorities around the world, BIMCO is looking for additional ways on biofouling management and ways to enhance access to in-water cleaning.

Understanding Biofouling: It is the intrusion of invasive aquatic species to new environments by ships is now identified as a major threat to the world’s oceans. These species, traveling on ships’ ballast water or on their hulls, are able to survive, establishing a reproductive population in the host environment.

BIMCO's survey aimed to ensure that the result of the cleaning is conducted according to a set of specifications; the environmental impact of the process and coating damage is controlled; and the cleaning process is planned, safe and effective.

The survey was launched in May 2018 and lasted for six weeks; BIMCO received the replies of 38 companies owning or operating a total of 2,205 ships.

The respondents informed that those with large fleet used different anti-fouling systems on different ships according to the ship's trading profile; biocidal coating, hard coating.

How respondents monitored the performance of AFS

According to the graph above, respondents noted that manual collection of data is the most popular method among the companies that responded.

  • 68% of respondents that collected data based on noon reports operated 2016 ships collectively;
  • 66% of the respondents that conducted regular in-water hull inspections while in service operated 2,059 ships.
  • Another important way to rate the hull condition was during dry docking. This was done by 45% of the respondents, however they only operated 534 ships. This indicates that respondents with a large fleet are more actively collecting data to determine biofouling than respondents with relatively few ships.

It should also be mentioned that the percentages in figure 1 are accumulated and that several of the companies use more than one method.

The graph below presents how the respondents implemented the biofouling management plan into their shipboard management systems used such as the safety management system (SMS) and/or the planned maintenance system (PMS).

The way in which the biofouling management plan is implemented

Moreover, the survey highlights that 33 respondents out of a possible 38 (87%) took the Biofouling Guidelines into consideration.

In the question "When respondents are carrying out in-water inspections", two-thirds of all ships called for inspections if a concerning level of biofouling had been determined, but a few of the options may benefit from further explanation.

When respondents are carrying out in-water inspections

  • Regularly in accordance with the biofouling plan: it is, for example, quite normal to have divers examine the hull in connection with an in-water cleaning of propeller. Such cleanings are normally performed frequently as fouling of the propeller has a relatively large impact on a ship's fuel consumption.
  • When there is a certain amount of water flow around the ship's hull
  • To ensure compliance with the recent unilateral regulations, which require ships entering the waters of the coastal state to be free of marine growth.
  • Under others, respondents wrote increased resistance and inspections every 2.5 years during a ship's intermediate survey.

Overall, the maritime sector uses two different approaches to determine when to clean the hull.

#1 Responsive cleaning: reacting to observations made during inspections and/or when fuel consumption has increased due to more frictional resistance between the hull and water.

#2 Proactive cleaning: being done based on pre-selected intervals regardless of the presence of fouling. As can be seen, most of the respondents are using responsive cleaning and only 8% of the respondents use proactive cleaning.

BIMCO concluded that

It is encouraging to note that most of the respondents are following the Biofouling Guidelines. Further, almost every respondent had biofouling management in place and many respondents have taken niche area cleaning into consideration.

To explore more on BIMCO's biofouling survey click herebelow