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The Ballast Water Management Convention will enter into force on September 8, 2017. It means ships should invest in an IMO-approved ballast water treatment system on which depends the renewal of a ship’s IOPP certificate. In the period till installation on board, a ship should follow the IMO instructions with respect to ballast water exchange.

Vlieborg was cleaned using OH Ship Cleaning's innovative Fleet Cleaner. Photo: René Klootsema

The new legislation was developed to stop the introduction of invasive alien species having caused serious problems in many areas, such as the Black Sea, North Sea, the Great Lakes and other parts of the world.

Some countries, such as Australia, had already introduced national legislation to reduce the impact of non-native species carried in ballast water. The Convention will introduce a global harmonised system.

Hull fouling: an increasing global problem

A research programme of Marine Eco Analytics.nl reveals the potential problems of hull fouling. Hull fouling of (marine and brackish) bio organisms is the growth of invasive species on the ships' hull. It significantly increases the physical resistance under water and, consequently, increases fuel consumption and costs, and decreases the vessel’s speed. Moreover, hull fouling is a growing international ecological problem. Attached to the ships' hull, marine organisms are introduced around the world, often thousands of miles from their natural habitats. In absence of natural enemies in these new habitats the alien species introduced into the ecosystem grow at an uncontrolled rate and cause unpredictable and uncontrollable effects. In some sea areas, the problem of hull fouling is even (almost) exceeding amount of invasive species introduced by ballast water*:

  • 74% of non-indigenous marine invertebrates transported to the Hawaiian Islands is estimated to originate from hull fouling (Eldredge and Carlton in GISP, 2008);
  • 42% of marine species unintentionally introduced into Japan is suspected to be transported by ships’ hulls (Otani in GISP 2008);
  • 78% of introduced marine species in Port Philip Bay, Australia, are hull fouling species (Hewitt et al. in GISP 2008);
  • more than half of the ship-mediated species introductions into the North Sea originate from hull fouling (Gollasch in GISP 2008).

* Source: Marine Environmental Awareness Course of the Pro Sea Foundation, second edition 2012.

To conclude, species introduced by hull fouling can have a huge impact on vulnerable eco systems, cause economical damage and threaten human health.

Hull cleaning

Because of higher fuel consumption and costs due to hull fouling, vessels regularly enter a drydock for a hull cleaning operation, an activity which is often performed during their stay (loading/unloading) in seaports.

A recent article in Port Strategy (April 26, 2017) illustrates the importance of capturing the fouling when cleaning the hull. An innovative hull cleaning robot which can clean ships while they are in port has been launched in the Port of Rotterdam. OH Ship Cleaning used its Fleet Cleaner to clean the hull of Wagenborg’s Vlieborg while at berth. The vessel was heavily fouled with slime and algae, which was removed from the hull and captured by the installation. The collected wastewater was also carefully filtered in order to comply with environmental regulations. Since Vlieborg had no cargo at the time of the cleaning, a large portion of the hull was cleaned above water. For the underwater section, visibility was extremely poor during the cleaning operation. However, due to the unique positioning and imaging systems used by Fleet Cleaner, it was still possible to perform an accurate clean of the hull. With the cleaning of Vlieborg and also previously the hull cleaning of the bulk vessel Marcor, both in Rotterdam, Fleet Cleaner has established itself as the new standard for in water cleaning in Dutch ports.

See more at: www.portstrategy.com