The surfaces of ship hulls are often exposed to the attachment of microorganisms, plants, algae, and animals, a process known as biofouling.

This resistance, in turn, leads to heightened energy consumption.

IMO Biofouling-Guidelines

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has issued the “Guidelines for the control and management of ships’ biofouling to minimize the transfer of invasive aquatic species” to prevent biofouling. These guidelines provide a globally unified approach to biofouling management on ships and were initially adopted by the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the IMO in July 2011. 

After extensive consultations between IMO member states and international organizations, in which the Association of German Shipowners (VDR) actively participated through Germany and its international umbrella organization, the International Chamber of Shipping, revised guidelines were adopted in July 2023 during the eightieth session of the MEPC. The Biofouling guidelines are directed at ship operators, shipowners, shipbuilders, shipyards, classification societies, manufacturers of antifouling systems, suppliers, and other interested parties. They offer practical recommendations for reducing the risk of biofouling.

The guidelines cover various aspects, including the design and construction of ships, installation, and maintenance of antifouling systems, monitoring of risk parameters, emergency measures, underwater inspection and cleaning, biofouling management plan, dissemination of information, as well as training and education.

Runder Tisch Biofouling (national Round Table on the topic of biofouling)

After the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) initiated a Round Table on the topic of biofouling in cooperation with the Association of German Shipowners for the first time in 2019, this format has since become firmly established. The Round Table serves as a platform for the interdisciplinary exchange of information on biofouling management, involving authorities, politics, industry associations, classification societies, and research institutions. A significant aspect of this Round Table is to support the further revision and adaptation of the IMO Biofouling guidelines.
You can find the protocols and presentations of the Biofouling Round Table here.