Currently still in its developmental stage, the association has sent its draft global cleaning standard to a reference group of scientists and government regulators. The approval standard was created by a working group of shipowners, paint manufacturers and hull cleaning companies led by Aron Sørensen, BIMCO’s head of marine environment, and outlines the minimum requirements necessary to approve in-water cleaners.
Sørensen stresses the importance of settling on a global standard for hull cleaning, as there are over 80,000 large merchant vessels in operation, with Australia alone experiencing around 30,000 port calls annually. Each of these vessels risk transferring invasive, harmful aquatic species across continents and marine environments if their hulls are not sufficiently cleaned, he adds.
“If you don’t have global standards, the shipowner can’t know if a supplier in one country – the in-water cleaning company – has done a good job. Furthermore, the port authorities lack a common method to evaluate in-water cleaning companies,” says Sørensen.
BIMCO comments that a vessel suffering from hull biofouling can experience a fuel efficiency reduction of up to 35%, causing an increase in both cost and CO2 emissions due to the ship’s drag through water. Additionally, Sørensen explains that as drydocking space is limited for larger ships, the cost of deviating to Asian docks is extremely high, and this additional trip adds to existing GHG emissions, which can be avoided by utilising in-water cleaning of ships.
Sørensen explains: “The new in-water cleaning standard puts great emphasis on capturing what is removed from the ship, thereby ensuring that the marine environment is not negatively affected. We believe that a global standard will create much needed transparency along with economic and environmental benefits for shipowners, ports, port authorities and in-water cleaning companies.”
BIMCO’s proposed approval standard will be based on verified tests from accredited laboratories as well as certificates issued by internationally recognised classification societies. Its corresponding approval-based certificate will confirm that the equipment and procedures of the in-water cleaning is of high enough quality.
The association’s next step is practically testing the standard on a hull cleaning company and a shipowner, which is due to take place in 2020. Sørensen adds: “At the stage we are now, we need to engage with industry experts, governments, scientists and port authorities before we finalise the in-water cleaning standard.”