The Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) intends to introduce in-water hull cleaning at South African ports in an effort to stringently manage biofouling, where marine organisms attach themselves to the hull of a ship and niche areas, potentially spreading alien and invasive species across borders.
This is aimed at better managing biodiversity, improving fuel efficiency and reducing carbon emissions.
Biofouling slows down the vessel and reduces fuel efficiency, resulting in more fuel burned and more carbon emissions emitted, says TNPA Durban port environmental manager Simphiwe Mazibuko.
She adds that the cleaning of ship biofouling is one of the practices recommended by the International Maritime Organisation to help vessel owners meet new regulations related to fuel efficiency and reducing carbon emissions by 2020.
“Hull cleaning that is not managed correctly during removal of biofouling can result in the global spread of alien and invasive species posing serious risks. These risks could include destroying indigenous biodiversity, harming local fisheries and aquatic farming operations and introducing diseases to the local population,” Mazibuko explains.
The TNPA operates in sensitive aquatic habitats and near aquatic farming operations in a number of its ports in South Africa, making it critical for the port landlord to introduce a strict permit for all service providers undertaking hull cleaning activity in any port.
The TNPA is reviewing submissions from prospective hull cleaning service providers.
“Strict environmental monitoring of all hull cleaning activities will ensure that deviations are picked up early and strict interventions are implemented, even if it means cancelling the permit of a noncompliant service provider,” says Mazibuko.
The TNPA states that it is committed to working with all regulatory authorities that are mandated to manage biodiversity, conduct research or establish policy and exercise oversight on environmental marine issues.