Research Topic

Impact and Management of Marine Biofouling

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About this Research Topic

Biofouling, the accumulation of organisms on wetted surfaces, is a ubiquitous challenge for submerged anthropogenic marine structures that can result in reduced efficiency, increased fuel consumption, and hence increased greenhouse gas emissions from vessels. In addition, it causes the weakening and

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Biofouling, the accumulation of organisms on wetted surfaces, is a ubiquitous challenge for submerged anthropogenic marine structures that can result in reduced efficiency, increased fuel consumption, and hence increased greenhouse gas emissions from vessels. In addition, it causes the weakening and corrosion of maritime infrastructure, detrimental effects on aquaculture, and translocation of harmful non-indigenous species. The impacts of marine non-indigenous species (including macro and micro-organisms) on economic, environmental, and socio-cultural values have led to the formation of national and international regulations and guidelines to manage the risks associated with the vessel biofouling pathway. 


Due to the aforementioned negative effects, it is desirable to minimize the accumulation of biofouling on marine vessels and structures. Fouling-control coatings are predominantly used to manage marine biofouling on vessels. An ideal coating should be effective against biofouling organisms over the duration of the in-service period and remain smooth enough to improve the surface properties of the vessels and structures to which they are applied. Biocidal active ingredients continue to receive considerable scrutiny at national and international regulatory levels, however, a balance must be achieved regarding the benefits of coating efficacy, which includes environmental benefits, and potential impacts to environmental values. Other management strategies being considered across the variety of marine structures include, but are not limited to, marine growth prevention systems, native species enhancement, bubble nets, acoustics, ultra-violet light, and in-water cleaning technologies. 


Before deciding whether to apply a new biofouling management strategy for marine vehicles and structures, a life cycle assessment of the structures in question both with and without the new management strategy must be performed. For this reason, the impact of marine biofouling on the performance of anthropogenic structures and on the marine environment and the efficacy and potential impacts of management strategies must be scientifically investigated so that evidence-based decisions can be made by regulators and industry. The goal of this Research Topic is therefore to address the impact and management of marine biofouling towards sustainable transportation and energy, to fill the gaps in the literature, and hence contribute to and update the evidence-based in this field.


This Research Topic focuses on the “Impact and Management of Marine Biofouling”. We invite researchers from academia, government, and industry to submit original articles that advance state-of-the-art methods and findings in the field of marine biofouling or review the data gaps, progress, and future directions of research. The scope of the Research Topic covers all ranges of subjects relevant to the impact and management of marine biofouling. Suitable themes for the special edition include, but are not limited to, the following:

·      Fouling/coating hydrodynamics

·      Effect of fouling/coatings/management strategies on ships, oil and gas platforms, marine and offshore renewable energy structures (including internal and external niche areas), marine aquaculture (e.g., nets, lines, shellfish) and maritime infrastructure (e.g., wharves, piles, pontoons, buoys).

·      Potential of fouling to translocate non-indigenous species, including pathogens

·      Life-cycle assessment of management strategies (e.g., native species enhancement, fouling control coatings, marine growth prevention systems, bubble nets, in-water cleaning technologies, etc)



Keywords: Marine Biofouling, Ships, Offshore Renewable Energy Structures, Biofouling Management


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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