Marine Research Findings of the VECTORS Project

This website provides access to the research results of the VECTORS project, which can be used to support marine management decisions, policies and governance as well as future research and investment. VECTORS was a large scale project that brought together more than 200 expert researchers from 16 different countries. It examined the significant changes taking place in European seas, their causes, and the impacts they will have on society.

Economic impact of invasive species and fouling and ballast waters mitigation measures for shipping industry

Maritime transport and shipping is impacted negatively by biofouling, which can result in a reduction in speed and increased fuel consumption. Thus, costs for the removal or prevention of fouling can be considered an investment to reduce fuel consumption. However, anti-fouling measures also contribute to reducing the rate of introduction of non-indigenous species (NIS). NIS can be also introduced via transport in ballast water tanks, a threat address by IMO and US regulations. Mitigation measures to reduce the transport of NIS on hulls and within ballast water and ballast sediments impose additional costs throughout the maritime transport sector. We estimate that the operational cost of current mitigation measures, together with ballast water treatment systems that comply with both the IMO and US regulations, may represent a significant percentage of the annual operational cost for a ship, with the higher proportional costs generally relating to smaller ships.


There are indications that non-indigenous species can have higher impact on aspects of bio-fouling that can affect fuel consumption than indigenous species in the three European seas studied. This is due to factors like a higher average growth, higher salinity tolerance, resistance to pollutants or antifouling coatings and morphological characteristics.

A analysis of indigenous and non-indigenous species found in biofouling shows that non indigenous species have on average higher indices for growth factors, salinity tolerance, resistance to pollutants and morphological characteristics that produce higher frictional resistance. These indices provide evidence that tentatively support the hypothesis that NIS can be impacting fuel consumption more than native species. The average indices are roughly similar for the different regional seas which suggests similar impact of non-indigenous species on fuel consumption in maritime transport across the European seas. Mitigation measures aimed at limiting species transport have a financial cost to shipping, both via the maintenance costs associated with reducing biofouling of vessels and the introduction of ballast water treatment systems. The Ballast Water Convention which has not been ratified yet by a decisive number of countries requires the installation of an IMO approved type of ballast water treatment systems (BWTS) on most ships. The cost of BWTS is related to the pumping capacity required, which is correlated with both the total BW capacity and DWT (Dead Weight Tonnage) of the ships. Based on limited publicly available data and a survey among key shipping companies of different type and size the costs of mitigation measures were estimated for six categories of ships which differ in BW Capacity, DWT and type of ship.

Relevance for Policy:
  • Alien Invasive Species Directive
  • Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning and Integrated Coastal Management (forthcoming)
  • Guidelines for the Control and Management of Ships’ Biofouling to Minimize the Transfer of Invasive Aquatic Species
Further information:

Deliverable 3.3.1: Impact of ecological changes on economic results of different sectors

Fernandes J.A., Santos L., Vance T., Fileman T., Smith D., Bishop J., Viard F., Queirós A.M., Merino G., Buisman E., Austen M. Submitted. Modelling the cost to European shipping of ballast-water treatment and biofouling by non-indigenous species. Environmental Science and Technology

Lead Author:

Jose A. Fernandes
Agrocampus Ouest (AGRO)
Date of research: January 2015

Related articles:

Variability in gelatinous zooplankton 

Wind farms and jellyfish distribution 

|< <  ... 11 12 13 14   > >|

Print this page

The content of this website may be subject to copyright, if you wish to use any of the information or figures please contact the attributed author(s).
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 266445
© Vectors 2015. Coordinated by Plymouth Marine Laboratory.