BIMCO: There Must Be A Global Standard For Hull Cleaning

BIMCO, the world's largest international shipping organization, believes a global standard is needed to ensure that hull cleaning can be done in a safe and environmentally sustainable way in the future.

"Biofouling" is an accumulation of various aquatic organisms on a ship's hull that is becoming increasingly important on a global scale.

In addition to affecting ship efficiency and fuel consumption, ship fouling is also one of the main reasons for ships to transfer invasive aquatic species.

Over the past few decades, the problem of invasive species carried by ships has been exacerbated by increasing trade and traffic.

Today, there are more than 80,000 large merchant ships in the world that need to be cleaned every two years, depending on their worldwide trade traffic.

BIMCO has developed international standards and certifications for hull cleaning to ensure a specific quality level for the cleaning process.The goal, however, is to develop a standard that is recognized by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

BIMCO says it is one step closer to completing a set of global guidelines to protect the Marine environment from invasive species and reduce CO2 emissions.

This standard relates to the cleaning of the hull and niches such as bow thrusters and ship propeller shafts.

Aron S rensen, BIMCO's head of Marine environment, heads a working group comprising shipowners, paint manufacturers and hull cleaning companies.

The group recently sent a first draft of the standards to a reference group that includes scientists and government regulators.The next step is to actually test the standard with a hull cleaning company and a ship owner, with plans for 2020.

"At this stage, we need to engage with industry experts, governments, scientists and port authorities before we can set standards for underwater cleanliness," S rensen said.

According to S rensen, the cleaning must be done underwater because there are limited dry yards for large ships, such as those carrying iron ore or crude oil.

"There is a strong emphasis on capturing what is removed from the ship to ensure that the Marine environment is not adversely affected," he said.We believe that global standards will bring much-needed transparency and economic and environmental benefits to shipowners, ports, port authorities and underwater cleanup companies."

In addition, unloading ships away from Asian shipyards is extremely costly, and increased dry dockyard trips increase greenhouse gas emissions that could be avoided if cleaned on site.

At present, there is no universal global standard for cleaning the hull to avoid transferring invasive aquatic species or potentially damaging residues washed away in the cleaning process.

For shipowners, the lack of a common set of global rules creates economic and administrative problems.

BIMCO says countries such as Australia and New Zealand, as well as places such as Hawaii and California, have already implemented or are implementing biocolubriation regulations for ships entering their waters, as some countries have done with the first regulations.

"If you don't have global standards, shipowners won't know if a country's suppliers [underwater cleaning companies] are doing a good job," S rensen said.In addition, the Port Authority lacks a common method for evaluating underwater cleanup companies."

The approval criteria will set the minimum requirements for approval in underwater cleaning based on tests verified by an accredited laboratory and certificates issued by an internationally recognized classification society.

BIMCO says that a certificate based on approval will show that the equipment is of good quality and that the process is reasonable.

Approval standards are still being developed, and BIMCO plans to eventually require IMO to adopt them.This process takes two to three years.

BIMCO explains that the additional benefit of having a global standard is that materials removed from the hull are collected during underwater cleaning, thereby reducing pollution from heavy metals and paint fragments released into the ocean, reducing the risk of divers cleaning the hull, and maintaining the performance of the antifouling system.

Commercial diving is more dangerous.In the UK, the death rate for commercial divers ranges from 20 to 40 per 100,000 people, according to figures published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in 2010.This risk factor is 12.3 to 24.7 times that of the construction industry.