Document Type

Journal Article


Shipping represents a threat as a vector for the transfer of non-indigenous marine species through the discharge of ballast water and biofouling of vessels’ external structures and internal piping. While considerable attention has been given to the management of ballast water, there currently exists no international legal instrument with which to control biofouling. A number of existing legal mechanisms may be applicable in the context of coastal States’ rights under international law. However, existing mechanisms are insufficient to regulate all aspects of the biofouling problem to ensure comprehensive management of the issue. There is, therefore, a need for the development of a comprehensive international agreement to address this gap. The issue of biofouling on international vessels has now been included on the work programme of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). As a contribution to discussions on how to address this particular issue at an international level, this article provides an analysis of the options available through the IMO to address this issue. Having defined the specific ‘‘threat scenario’’ with regard to hull fouling, the article will consider: (i) the international legal framework that has been established to regulate the harmful impacts of international shipping; (ii) the range of practical measures that are available to manage biofouling on vessels; and (iii) international legal options available to States to address the threat of biofouling posed by international shipping.