Almouj Marina announced the successful results of a month long experiment to create environmentally friendly and technologically enhanced anti-fouling for vessels and other submerged structures. The unique field -experiment, which was conducted in Almouj Marina and in partnership with researchers from Sultan Qaboos University, has successfully developed a non-toxic coating that has proven to be as effective as commercial anti-fouling paints without endangering the environment. The project, the first of its kind in the region, could help preserve Oman’s unique marine environment and save the maritime industry millions of USD annually.
Biofouling is the colonization of submerged surfaces by unwanted organisms such as bacteria, barnacles, and algae. The fouling of boats, structures, and industrial equipment has had a major impact on the maritime industry. For decades, toxic compounds have been used to keep the hull of ships free of organisms. This has led to the contamination of marine environment and harming of many marine organisms.
Khalil AbuJaber, Marina Manager of Almouj Marina commented, “This milestone moment is a major step forward in our quest to prevent the degradation and pollution of marine species in the Sultanate. Its success has the potential to ramp up efforts to protect our oceanic treasures and position Oman as a safe haven for oceanic life. As a result of the strong outcomes yielded by the experiment, we alongside our partners will extend the length of the eco-project further as we move to enter a new phase of intense research development.”
Dr. Sergey Dobretsov, Head of Department of Marine Science and Fisheries at Sultan Qaboos University’s said, “Biofouling is a major problem for the marine industry, incurring worldwide more than $15 billion USD per annum to control the issue. Oman in particular has a great deal of biofouling thanks to its long coastal areas. Today, most manufacturers produce toxic anti-fouling paints that gradually release poisonous chemicals and harm any organisms that come in contact with it, in addition to contaminating marine environment. As such, the development of an environmentally friendly coating will bring massive benefits to Oman, ranging from sustaining wildlife and ecosystems to significantly reducing costs.”
The nano-coating developed during the experiment in Almouj Marina, is technologically enhanced and can cover more surface with less material. Produced with the aid of nano-technology, the coating successfully reduced the impact of biofouling on waterways, marine life, maintenance cost and fuel consumption.
He added, “Almouj Marina was the ideal location to conduct this experiment thanks to its clean and clear waters as well as their dedication to marine conservation. The result is a coating that is free of toxic chemicals and capable of transforming marine preservation in Oman. Moving forward, we hope our next phase of research will be the beginning of new era for marine industry in the Sultanate.”
Kick-started as part of an agreement made between Almouj Marina and Sultan Qaboos University in February 2015 with the help of The Research Council (TRC) of Oman, the first experiments were undertaken on fishing nets. The project’s extended phase will soon begin and researchers will be focusing their trials on larger surfaces in longer term experiments.