In a proactive move to address the challenges associated with marine biofouling, as mandated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) rules, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) launched a 3-day Biofouling Management Training in collaboration with the Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre (MTCC) Africa.
Marine biofouling, which refers to the unwanted accumulation of biological matter on submerged surfaces like ship hulls and pier pylons, is typically caused by the adhesion of barnacles, macroalgae, and microbial slimes.
The opening ceremony took place in Lagos, and Dr. Bashir Jamoh OFR, the Director General of NIMASA, emphasized that the training program would introduce the latest technologies. The program, themed “The Place of Technologies in the Management of Marine Biofouling,” aims to explore the application of cost-effective practices and their benefits for both the environment and shipping efficiency.
Dr. Jamoh stressed the significance of preserving and safeguarding the seas and oceans, highlighting their integral connection to human well-being. He also noted the crucial role of shipping in global trade and commerce, responsible for facilitating approximately 90 percent of the world’s trade. However, ships have inadvertently served as vehicles for the transportation of harmful non-indigenous Invasive Aquatic Species (IAS), which attach themselves to the outer surfaces of ships, a process referred to as Biofouling. This phenomenon poses a threat to the environmental balance and ecosystems.
Given Nigeria’s heavy reliance on international trade, Dr. Jamoh underscored that shipping is a fundamental aspect of the nation’s import and export activities, but it also exposes the country to the risks of IAS transfer into its territorial waters.
In emphasizing the workshop’s significance on the transfer of environmentally sound technologies (TEST), he shared the quote, “a healthy ocean is a healthy future.”
Dr. Jose Matheickal, the Director of the Department of Partnerships and Projects at IMO, expressed excitement at NIMASA’s strategic partnership with MTCC Africa for the training on TEST Biofouling in Nigeria. He highlighted the IMO’s commitment to encouraging more women to participate in the maritime sector, applauding the emergence of African Women in Maritime (WIMAFRICA) Nigeria and other women’s groups in the maritime industry.
Capt. Sunday Umoren, the Secretary General of the Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control for West and Central African Region (Abuja MoU), highlighted the financial burden that marine biofouling places on shipowners. Biofouling increases ship drag, leading to higher fuel costs. He emphasized the need to maintain an ecological balance in aquatic environments.
Dr. (Mrs.) Oma Ofodile, the NIMASA Deputy Director of Marine Environment Management (MEM), drew attention to the pressing concern of greenhouse emissions. She noted that biofuels for vessels can reduce emissions. Through this training, Nigeria is aligning itself with the IMO’s call for Net Zero by 2050.
The event drew maritime experts from Nigeria and across the African continent, including Funmi Folorunso, Secretary General of the African Ship-owners Association; Mrs. Rollens Macfoy, President of African Women in Maritime Nigerian Chapter; Rear Admiral Abolaji Orederu, the representative of the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Admiral Superintendent Naval Dockyard Limited, Victoria Island, Lagos, and other distinguished guests.