BIMCO and ICS submit papers to the IMO to support the development of practical guidance on in-water cleaning


Two papers have been submitted to the 11th session of the IMO’s Pollution Prevention and Response Sub-Committee covering operational and safety aspects of in-water cleaning as well as the revised Procedure for independent testing and certification of in-water cleaning companies.

The 2023 Guidelines for the control and management of ships' biofouling to minimise the transfer of invasive aquatic species (2023 Biofouling Guidelines) provide a framework for when in-water cleaning might or might not take place related to the level of fouling.  Development of guidance on matters relating to in-water cleaning with therefore be an area of focus for the IMO until 2025.  

To support the member states in their deliberations and to ensure that by capturing waste substances, in-water cleaning can be undertaken in more ports in a practical, safe and environmentally-sound manner, BIMCO and ICS have submitted two papers to the 11th session of the Pollution Prevention and Response Sub-Committee.  

The overall aim is to establish a certification system for in-water cleaning that gives shipowners confidence that a particular cleaning company is certified and provides safe and environmentally sound services. 

The first paper outlines the operational procedures for: 

  • The ship 
  • The cleaning company 
  • Training of personnel 
  • Pre-cleaning preparations 
  • Safety and environmental requirements 
  • Post-cleaning inspection 
  • Documentation procedures that a cleaning company must adhere to for the cleaning of a ship's hull and/or niche areas. 

The second paper updates the sub-committee on the publication of the Procedure for independent testing and certification of in-water cleaning companies.  It highlights the fact that the revision focuses on providing confidence in in-water cleaning systems' capability to effectively capture waste substances.  

The proposal is practical in the sense that its starting point is the current system where cleaning systems and processes are tested and certified consistently, and that test results can be utilised by cleaning companies to apply for local permissions from ports and other relevant authorities to operate within their jurisdictions. 


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