The variety among biofouling organisms is highly diverse and extends far beyond attachment of barnacles and seaweeds. According to some estimates, over 1,700 species comprising over 4,000 organisms are responsible for biofouling which occurs in all oceans around the globe.

Barnacles are a global species that pose great threat to vessel operations and maintenance due to their rapid accumulation on the wetted surface of ships.

Present in all marine and brackish waters, these crustaceans, once established, attract other barnacles to form colonies. When attached to a ship’s hull, their shells cause microturbulence, significantly increasing drag which is directly related to increased fuel consumption and carbon emissions. Once attached to a ship’s hull, barnacles must be mechanically removed - creating a headache and cost for the ship operator.

shells on boathull


Fouled hulls act as vehicles of transportation for invasive aquatic species. There is a growing regulatory movement against the transportation of invasive species via bio-fouled ships and the issue is being addressed on a regional-basis and through IMO. The result of increased regulatory attention will be more hull inspections prior to port calls and increasing vessel detentions. Vessels are already being refused entry from certain ports due to their heavily fouled hulls.


Although marine biofouling occurs in all oceans, the fouling risk is different in different areas. In general, tropical or sub-tropical waters are considered high risk areas with rapid growth and settlement of organisms. With average global water temperatures increasing, high risk fouling is expanding, covering larger areas. Since the 1990s, trade patterns have shifted and a dominating portion of seaborne trade is frequenting ports located in warmer waters.

Bow of a red and green cargo ship.


The existing fleet is estimated to consume 350 million tonnes of fuel per year, emitting 1.1 billion tons of CO2 and over 10 million tons of SO2. If leaving hulls unprotected, the fuel consumption would increase by more than 40% on average on the world fleet due to the sharp increase in surface roughness caused by marine fouling. Yet, it is commonly believed that there is a potential to improve another 10% on average driving development of new, more efficient and environmentally sound coatings. If successful, approximately 30BIL USD may be taken out from the operating costs of the world fleet, not to mention the emissions to air and the reduced risk of carrying invasive aquatic species hidden on a fouled hull.

3 röda skepp

Ship owners need marine coating solutions that deliver fouling prevention for vessels with differing activity levels, whether in constant active service, idle, or fluctuating between the two. Coatings that can cope with conditions in the biofouling “red zones” in which their ships operate, where water temperatures can be high and fouling can be problematic if a ship is at anchorage for three to four weeks, for example, need to be selected.


The issue of biofouling is becoming an increasingly dominant issue for some Asian shipyards, with newly launched vessels laying idle in warming waters, suffer¬ing the effects of intense fouling during the ship outfitting process. This accumulation of biofouling on the hull can impact both the newly applied coating and the ship performance of a newbuild ship leaving the yard. Shipyards are pushing for antifouling solutions that ensure static performance during outfitting.

Marine coatings that contain Selektope, a technology that ensures both superior static and in-service performance, are the only answer.