The South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in partnership with International Maritime Organization (IMO) facilitated a regional workshop to develop a new Regional Strategy and Action Plan on Biofouling and Aquatic Invasive Species. Patricia Ngamata Tuara, Director for Maritime at Ministry of Transport and Roselyn Strickland from the National Environment Services (NES) attended the workshop held in Fiji last month.
Biofouling is when organisms such as algae, barnacles and mollusks accumulate on structure surfaces in the water. There are many risks involved that links to changes in our marine ecosystems and introduces invasive aquatic species. These environmental risks can pose significant threat to our communities including economic risks. The Pacific region is susceptible to the impacts of biofouling given its extensive coastlines and coastal communities.
Biofouling management strategies were discussed and how best practices can be applied to minimise the risks posed from biofouling. The workshop also consulted regional countries on the GEF- UNDP Glofouling Partnerships Project, which is a global initiative undertaken by IMO and key partners to focus on the legal, policy, institutional and capacity aspects in biofouling.
One of the takeaways from this workshop was that the delegates, together with the assistance of IMO, developed a draft regional strategy and action plan on biofouling and aquatic invasive species. This was made possible by the sharing of knowledge, strategies and advice from technical experts, on the actions required to mitigate the negative impacts of biofouling and aquatic invasive species. A regional task force was established, and delegates will continue to national policy and legal framework to improve in this area.
Rose Strickland stated ‘the discussions at the regional level allowed member countries to share their challenges faced in biofouling, as well as inviting technical experts from regional and international organisations to contribute to developing strategies to mitigate harmful effects of biofouling and invasive species. The workshop has given us effective tools and strategies to assist with implementation at the national level across multiple Government agencies.