BIMCO position statement 06: Biofouling Management


BIMCO's position has been approved by the BIMCO Board of Directors.


In October 2001, the International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships (AFS Convention) was adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). It sets forth requirements to prevent direct adverse impact on the environment from use of anti-fouling systems on ships. In July 2011, IMO also adopted a set of Guidelines to provide a globally consistent approach to managing biofouling reduction. In 2019, a revision of the IMO Guidelines was initiated.

High levels of fouling on a ship's hull and propeller significantly increase its drag resulting in poorer hydrodynamic performance and increased fuel consumption, which have a negative effect on a ship’s GHG emissions. There is therefore a strong economic, as well as an environmental incentive to combat biofouling.

Anti-fouling systems cannot maintain a fouling-free surface, so in-water cleaning between dry-dockings is required. There is a lack of in-water hull cleaning facilities worldwide. Some countries have adopted local regulations on hull cleaning prohibition, thus making in-water hull cleaning very difficult if not impossible.

In January 2021, an industry group led by BIMCO published the “Industry standard on in-water cleaning with capture” and the “Approval procedure for in-water cleaning companies”. The documents help to increase the quality and safety of in-water cleaning and ensure in-water cleaning is carried out in an efficient and environmentally sustainable way. BIMCO is currently developing a new contract that will provide an agreement between shipowners and in-water cleaning companies incorporating the industry standard.

BIMCO’s position

  • BIMCO notes that in the absence of internationally agreed biofouling legislation, some states have taken the initiative to implement domestic legislation to address biofouling. BIMCO encourages states to align such biofouling regimes with the IMO Biofouling Guidelines to avoid potentially discriminatory and impractical regulations for the industry.
  • BIMCO supports the development of mandatory IMO regulation on biofouling, provided ships can be ensured access to in-water cleaning. Introduction of measures that counterbalance the envisioned benefit should be carefully considered and only implemented if the negative consequences are acceptable.
  • More areas enabling environmentally sustainable in-water cleaning of hull and propeller should be allowed by coastal and port states.
  • BIMCO supports the development of innovative technologies such as ultrasonic anti-fouling and nano-structured surfaces.
  • BIMCO supports the GloFouling project funded by the UN and executed by the IMO to help implement the IMO guidelines on biofouling in developing coastal states.
  • BIMCO strongly recommends the use of the BIMCO Hull Fouling Clause for Time Charter Parties 2019. The Clause suspends the owners’ speed and performance warranty after an agreed period of time of sitting idle on charterers’ orders until the hull has been inspected and, if necessary, cleaned at the charterers’ expense.
Aron Soerensen
in Copenhagen, DK

VPS Bunker Alerts

Veritas Petroleum Services (VPS) publish regular Bunker Alerts based entirely on fuel samples and have kindly permitted BIMCO’s Members to access this information.

The Bunker Alerts are not intended to be an evaluation of overall bunker quality in the port or area concerned, but usually highlight a specific parameter within the fuel which has raised a quality issue.

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