GIS - 14 September, 2016:
A study on the ecological risks of conducting hull cleaning operations in Port waters will kickstart this month at the initiative of the Ministry of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries, Shipping and Outer Islands and the Mauritius Oceanography Institute. The study, which will end in June 2019, will cost Rs 15 million.
This announcement was made this morning by the Minister of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries, Shipping and Outer Islands, Mr Premdut Koonjoo, during the opening of the National Workshop on International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-Fouling Systems (AFS) on Ships held from 14 to 16 September 2016 at the Business Parks of Mauritius Ltd Conference Hall in Ebene Cybercity. The workshop is organised jointly by the Ministry and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
Mr Koonjoo recalled that although international shipping is heavily regulated and operates under International Maritime Conventions developed at the IMO, challenges still exist. He pointed out that vessel anti-fouling system is key to the efficient operation of ships by reducing fuel consumption and harmful gas emissions, and is essential for the effective control of invasive species that may be introduced through international shipping. Scientific studies, he added, have shown that some of the most active ingredients used in widespread anti-fouling systems are organotin compounds. It has been found that these compounds persist in water, killing sea life, harming the environment and possibly entering the food chain. Thus, it is essential that we address the harmful impacts of anti-fouling systems, he said.
Speaking about the intensification of the maritime traffic in the Indian Ocean basin, Minister Koonjoo highlighted that Mauritius is poised to become a strategic maritime and shipping hub. He stressed that we should be properly prepared for all the risks involved and take concrete actions to prevent any major ecological disasters that could arise from ships-related risks.
Anti-fouling coatings and systems are designed to minimise the amount of marine growth that accumulates on a ship’s hull during normal operation. Assemblages of marine organisms on ship hulls, known as hull fouling, can increase ship operating costs, fuel consumption, and harmful gas emissions. Non-native species can also be transported around the world on fouled ship hulls, which can colonise and disrupt sensitive ecosystems. Anti-fouling systems are therefore used to keep the hull of ships clean and free from fouling organisms to enable them to travel faster through the water and consume less fuel.
Compliance with Anti-Fouling System Convention
Under the terms of the AFS Convention, Parties to the Convention are required to prohibit and/or restrict the use of harmful anti-fouling systems on ships flying their flag, as well as ships not entitled to fly their flag but which operate under their authority and all ships that enter a port, shipyard or offshore terminal of a Party.
Although Mauritius is not yet party to the AFS convention, a number of measures have been taken to ensure compliance with the requirements of the AFS convention. They include:
•All convention sized vessels registered under the Mauritius flag are fully compliant with the requirements therein, including fishing vessels of 500 GT and more.
•All foreign International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) compliant vessels conducting their dry dock in Mauritius do comply with the requirements of AFS Convention.
•Survey and certification of the anti-fouling systems for vessels 400 GT and above has been delegated to recognised Classification Societies and they have been authorised to issue Statement of Compliance.
•Mauritius being a member of the Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control, the AFS certificate or Statement of Compliance is verified during a Port State Control inspection to ensure that the ship complies with the Convention.
•A ship that fails to comply with the AFS Convention may be detained and/or have the AFS Certification withdrawn until such deficiencies raised have been rectified.
•A new Marine Pollution Bill has been drafted and the requirements of the AFS Convention have been covered in Part VII.
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