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Protecting the environment from harmful aquatic invasive species and pathogens introduced via ships ballast water or on ships hulls
by Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (Non-governmental organization (NGO))

The introduction of aquatic invasive species to new marine and freshwater environments through ships ballast water and sediments and through hull fouling is considered to be one of the greatest threats to the worlds freshwater, coastal and marine environments and to marine biodiversity.
The Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology (IMarEST) working through its member-led expert groups in Ballast Water and Biofouling Management (the BWEG and BMEG) and through its consultative status at the International Maritime Organization, aims to ensure shipping and other maritime industries can continue to underpin trade, safety and security, and economic development with minimal environmental impact. This objective is relevant both in the intermediate and long term and is particularly focussed on the mitigation of impacts from harmful aquatic invasive species and pathogens that might be introduced via ships ballast water or on ships hulls by supporting the successful implementation of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention) and uptake of the IMO Guidelines for the Control and Management of Ships' Biofouling.

Implementation Methodologies

The IMarEST expert groups in ballast water and biofouling management provide a platform of knowledge exchange and sharing of technical expertise on the issues surrounding (but not limited to):
The need for, and effectiveness of guidelines and other measures to minimise aquatic invasive species transfer including ballast water management regulations, enforcement of the regulations, and expected upcoming activity in particular related to ballast water treatment technologies for use on board vessels and contingency measures for ports.
The environmental, economic and social impacts from introductions of aquatic invasive species associated with vessels hull fouling and ballast water operations in particular for Small Island Developing States (SIDS)
Ship biofouling management options and guidance, rules and regulations particularly related to in-water cleaning.
The balance between the efficacy and environmental impact of biocidal antifouling coatings for the global fleet
Supporting capacity development through strategic partnership with the GEF-UNDP-IMO Glo-X projects.

As well as undertaking a number of specific deliverables in order to achieve the prime objective, the IMarEST is committed to promoting and disseminating awareness of the IMO BWM Convention and the Biofouling Guidelines through its extensive international network of 20,000 members in over 120 countries world-wide. By holding events and conferences, publishing technical papers and news features and developing guidance documents, the IMarEST is committed to successfully delivering its objective. .


The IMarEST BWEG and BMEG are expert groups consisting of members with knowledge and experience of marine science, marine engineering and marine technology. They operate under a small steering group with a much larger corresponding membership which allow a diversity of engagement including younger people and those unable to attend meetings in person. The groups rely on voluntary contributions from members but are provided support from the IMarEST Technical Executive.
Progress reports
By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution
Type of commitment
  • Reduce invasive aquatic species introduction
December 2019
To publish a position paper on the environmental, economic and social impacts from introductions of aquatic invasive species particularly associated with vessels hull fouling
December 2019
To conduct a study based on the existing regulations on in-water cleaning and the pathways to approval and environmental acceptability for in-water cleaning technologies including standards by which to evaluate cleaning technologies in terms of water quality discharge and containment.
December 2020
To produce a series of 5 guidance documents that support the implementation of the BWM Convention and IMO Biofouling Guidelines comprising documents on management options, contingency measures and efficacy and environment impacts of biocides.
In-kind contribution
Expert volunteers from the IMarEST Ballast and Biofouling Expert Groups
Staff / Technical expertise
Support from IMarEST Technical Staff
Basic information
Time-frame: September 2017 - December 2022
Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology
Ocean Basins
  • Global
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficaries
Contact information
Bev Mackenzie, Dr, technical@imarest.org,
Other SDGs
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