Maritime: Officials Of IMO Excited,  Jamoh, DG, NIMASA,  Hosts Regional Biofouling Management Training In Nigeria

By Stephen Ubanna

Not many maritime operators knew what Biofouling Management in the global shipping industry is all about. This may have informed why  Bashir Jamoh, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, who appears to have survived President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, sledge hammer, battled pirates, sea thieves to a stand-still, and popularised the blue economy in Nigeria,  is on the move again.

This time around, the NIMASA Director General   has started popularising ship biofouling management and technology transfer in  Nigeria and the African Continent in general. This is evident with the three-day   ship biofouling  training programmme organised in Lagos, the nation’s commercial nerve centre with the support of the International Maritime Organisation, IMO, a United Nation UN’s maritime agency.   

Jamoh, G, NIMASA& Ms. Lydia,Ngugi, Head ,MTCC-Africa,, During The Biofouling Management Training In Lagos, Nigeria

Scientists had defined biofouling as ‘’the accumulation of microorganisms, plants, such as  algae, barnacles  and mollusks on the  surfaces of structures  submerged in water  and which poses  serious economic  and environmental   threats to  coastal states. There is no gain saying the fact that ‘’the invasive aquatic species non-native organisms can cause significant harm to the ecosystems, biodiversity and human activities’’.  This is because they often enter into new regions through ballast water discharge, vessel hulls or aquaculture activities.

   The problems associated with ships biofouling may have encouraged the four-member Baltic and international Maritime Council, BIMCO, described as the  largest  international  shipping Associations representing shipowners to have  forwarded the results of its   survey  to the IMO, as  a way   of contributing its quota  to the  management plan   ‘’to prevent the  biofouling practice ahead of the UN maritime agency  revision  of the existing  guidelines for ships biofouling’’.  BIMCO, was said to have Launched a Biofouling survey in 2018, to gain an insight into how shipowners are managing the biofouling process.

Ship biofouling management plan, according to the BIMCO report  is to be vessel-specific and is to provide a description of the biofouling management strategy for the vessels with sufficient details   ‘’to allow  the vessel’s master, the designated ship’s officer ,or crew  members to understand  and implement  the biofouling  management strategy’’

 Although, the risks associated with the ship biofouling , according which include ‘’reduced vessel efficiency, ship hulls drag, corrosion increased, fuel consumption and engine stress’’, as well ‘’ pipe blockage, altered marine ecosystems, increased membrane flux, contaminated water, reduced heat- exchanger efficiency’’ are being tackled  headlong  with the new  technologies that had been developed by companies  but it has resulted to the introduction of invasive species to new habitats which appears more devastating to coastal states.

 Recall that in March,2022, the Leadership of IMO, had received the BIMCO survey report when  the Organisation  had initiated plans to review the 2011 guidelines for control and management of ships biofouling strategies ‘’to optimise the transfer of the technology to prevent spread of invasive species.

Given that shipping Companies rely mostly on submerged equipment to capture offshore wind, wave, and tidal energy, maritime analysts had said that biofouling could still make things difficult for them ‘’to keep the equipment clean and operational’’. Recall that   BIMCO had said that ‘’ ships biofouling requires constant maintenance of infrastructure and use of special materials to protect these all- important investments in the future

Indeed the increased  roughness  presented  by a heavily  fouled  ship hulls  was said to have necessitated why the IMO  had  imposed  over 86%  powering penalties  at cruising speed of ships . The IMO Leadership were said to have made it clear to member countries    that  ‘’without   effective  antifouling measures  ,  to maintain  ship speed , fuel consumption  and greenhouse gas emissions  would increase significantly’’. Note that   the Bulk carrier vessel,  ‘’IDL Marigold  was   the first IMO  biofouling casualty’’  in March 2017.   There had been  other ship casualties that wee said to contravened  the IMO ship biofouling requirements between 2018 and now.  

There are indications that that   biofouling management plans costs aquaculture   and shipping industries billions of the North American country of the United States, US, dollars yearly on maintenance and extra-fuel usage. This may have encouraged some IMO, member countries to develop their Biofouling requirements for ships visiting their ports, while a few others were said ‘’to have restricted or prohibited in-water cleaning of ships in their waters.

jAMOH DG,, NIMASA, Heaky Dimowo &Adul Dirisu, Nig. Alternative Permanent Reps,. In IMO

  Scientists from the University of Sydney, Australia, were said to have developed ‘’nano wrinkled coatings  that have the potential  to avoid the build- up  of damaging biofouling  biological  materials to save about $320  million  annually by   the country’s shipping industry.  The US, shipping industry according reports   spends upwards of $23 billion annually to prevent biofouling.

 The  take off of the Glo Fouling  Regional Task Force speaks volume. The GLO Fouling Task Force     between July 217th and 20th, 2023, was said to have convened a meeting, being the second in one year, as part of efforts to address the biofouling issue in Fiji Islands. The meeting was said to have  discussed  the effective  biofouling  management strategies , including hull cleaning and coating technologies, regulator frameworks and best practices.

The GEF-UNDP -IMO GloFouling  Partnerships project  , described as a global initiative  which  was said to have brought together the experts , policy makers  and  otherstakeholders from the pacific countries  ‘’to discuss strategies  share ideas  and develop coordinated actions  to mitigate  the adverse effects  of biofouling  and invasive species  in the region may have achieved the purpose.

 Indeed, the success of the Pacific region biofouling two-day  training workshop may have informed why the Leadership of ‘’the IMO  had adopted  the Regional Taskforce’’    in managing  biofouling and invasive species  within  each region.       

Until the Pacific region biofouling workshop that was held in July 2023,  The IMO backed biofouling training workshop was said to have been hosted  in Netherlands, New Zealand,  Galapagos and the Mediterranean region where participants were drawn from  Malta,  Albania,  Bosnia,  Herzegovina, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Spain and Tunisia. Jordan, Middle East country and the  two Asian countries of Phillipines and Indonesia  have taking the lead over the last couple of years  in the delivery  of a training programme  on biofouling management.      

     Jamoh, the NIMASA, dIrector General may have taken advantage of these various biofouling management training workshops in the different regions, to join the league as the leading maritime nation to organise  a 3-day Biofouling Training rogramme  in  the African Lagos, the nation’s commercial nerve centre, October 2023, with members drawn from  the different  countries in the African Containent and private agencies. 

Speaking at the opening session on Monday, October 30, 2023, at the Maritime regulatory agency   Technology Cooperation Centre, MTCC,   at  Apapa, Lagos,  at the training workshop  on the transfer of  biofouling sound technologies for partnering  countries in the Continent  with the theme: The place of technology  in the management of Bifouling ,  Jamoh, the  NIMASA  Chief Executive officer, CEO, had pointed out that ‘’the Biofouling training programme would go a long way to showcase the western technologies used in the management of the Biofouling process, their application and cost -effective practices, including the related benefits for the Continent’s maritime environment and efficiency of shipping’’.  

Hear him: The importance of protecting and conserving the seas, oceans and the inhabitants of the various countries in the African Continent which  are intrinsically linked to them and their wellbeing reflects that of the sub-Saharan African Continent too.

He noted that ‘’shipping is at the crux of global trading    and the economy with about 90% of world trade  and commerce still being facilitated  through shipping.  He had revealed that studies had shown that ships serve over a time as a channel of transportation of harmful non -indigenous non-invasive Aquatic Species, IAS from one location to another.  According to him, these harmful organisms attach themselves to the outer surface and niche areas of a ship and are then translocated from one region to another.

The NIMA helmsman was said to have told participants at the Biofouling training workshop that the Nigerian economy is relies  heavily on international trade because shipping  is a key  component of the country’s import and export activities. He asserted that  ships biofouling  it will  inevitably expose the nation  to threats of the IAS, transfer in the c water ways which could have been avoided with careful management of the biofouling problem.

The NIMASA boss was said to have made the  participants at the three- day biofouling  training workshop  that    ‘’the IMO guidelines  for control  and management of biofouling ships   is an international instrument  aimed at addressing  and  to maintain the efficiency , safety  and environmental sustainability   of maritime operations and prevent  the spread of the invasive species in the African countries water ways’’.

The NIMASA helmsman was said to have made  it clear to the participants   that  ‘’ship Biofouling   if not properly tackled in Nigeria, would pose a threat ‘’ to the country’s transition  to the Blue Economy  due to its environmental burdens’’, stressing that ‘’a healthy ocean s a healthy future’’ to distil the essence of the 3-day workshop on the transfer of environmentally sound technologies, to African countries,  TEST’’.

The Katsina state born technocrat had listed some of the environmental burdens which includes ‘’low productivity, biodiversity, lower resilience  to climate change and economic burdens , insisting that  that there must be huge prevention and control of the biofouling challenge. 

  The NIMASA  CEO, may to have used the opportunity provided by the Biofouling training Workshop, to encourage the foreign participants  ‘’to explore and enjoy the fascinating  insights  of the coastal city of Lagos, urging participants  not to be  left behind  on the IMO, call for zero emissions by 20050’’.

At the end of the 3-day biofouling training programme in Nigeria,  participants from the government, foreign  agencies and other  private organisations  were said to have  had   an apparent  understanding  of how effective  the biofouling management  plans and  biofouling record books  are  reducing , managing  and even preventing  biofouling  with  the additional advantages  of having cleaner  hulls  and internal seawater systems.  

Jose Matheickal, Head, Department of Partnerships and Projects, IMO, who was said to have attended the Biofouling Workshop in Nigeria, was so excited that the NIMASA Director General, could take the bold initiative ‘’to take the lead in hosting the strategic MTCC, Africa training  on Test  Biofouling’’, describing the regional biofouling workshop in Africa as encouraging.

 He may have gladdened the heart of the women participants at the 2-day Biofouling Workshop, when he disclosed that the IMO, over the years, have been encouraging the women ‘’to participate in the maritime sector’’, noting that the Leadership is happy to find African women in Maritime, WIMAFRICA, Nigeria  and other women groups   emerging  in the African  Continent maritime space.  

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