The build-up of organisms on submerged structures not only adds significant weight and drag to the structures but can support the spread of non-native species.
Whilst fouling of ships’ hulls may spread organisms across stationary structures in oceans such as wind turbines, oil rigs, buoys, piers and jetties, it may facilitate localised spread of invasive species within a region. They can provide a ‘stepping-stone’ for organisms where otherwise no suitable substrates would occur, and where distance would otherwise prevent spread.
APEM have significant experience in assessing fouling communities with the purpose of detecting non-native species and assessing the threat they pose of introducing non-native species.
We plan and execute surveys tailored to fouling communities and the species likely to pose the greatest threats. Rapid assessment surveys are used to detect those species easily identified in the field, whilst laboratory analysis of samples from surface scrapes or settlement panels at one of APEM’s laboratories enables detection of smaller organisms that may not be evident on site.
We interpret the information in the context of local and international guidelines as well as knowledge of the recipient environment. The results are used to determine the risk posed by the vessel/structure and enable us to offer advice on suitable management options or preventative measures.