UMCES Chesapeake Biological Laboratory’s Professor Mario Tamburri has developed an international reputation for his work on green ship and green port innovations and, in particular, the role of commercial shipping in the spread of aquatic invasive species. His research has literally helped set regulatory standards here in the US and internationally.
Recently, Tamburri has turned his attention toward fouling organisms that attach to, and grow on, the hulls of ships. Ship biofouling is not only a major source of invasive species in coastal environments around the world, but also increases ship drag as they move through the water, resulting in increased fuel consumption and exhaust emissions. While many antifouling paints have been developed over the years, they are far from perfect and may themselves impact the environment (through the release of toxic chemical and/or microplastics). Tamburri and his team have been working to identify win-win solutions to the ship biofouling problem, which both save the shipping industry money while also protecting the environment. With support the Maryland Port Administration and the US Maritime Administration, Tamburri has been conducted vitally needed research on measuring ship biofouling and on ship in-water cleaning systems for the last five years.
Given the growing international awareness of the economic and environmental impacts of ship biofouling, a new Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) has been established as an inter-agency body of the United Nations. The mission of GESAMP is to provide authoritative, independent, interdisciplinary scientific advice to organizations and member Governments to support the protection and sustainable use of the marine environment. Tamburri has been invited to be a founding member of this expert group on biofouling, which will be hosted by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). This would normally involve meetings in London and cities around the world – but during the current COVID-19 crisis, everything is going virtual. Chesapeake Biological Laboratory congratulates Dr. Tamburri for this recognition and thanks him for his willingness to serve the state, region and the global community.