2–6 March 2020

Meetings of two working groups of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), i.e. the Working Group on Ballast and Other Ship Vectors (WGBOSV) and the Working Group on Introductions and Transfers of Marine Organisms (WGITMO), were held on 2–6 March 2020 in Gdynia, Poland. This event was organized as a part of the COMPLETE project for exchanging the latest progress of the project with these working groups. Each group met for 3 days, with one day being a joint day. In total, 33 participants (including 9 representing the COMPLETE project) from 16 countries, such as Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Greece, the Netherlands, Iceland, Canada, Lithuania, Latvia, Germany, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, the USA, and the United Kingdom took part in both meetings. Among them was also a representative of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). In addition, 7 participants from 5 countries (Germany, USA, Canada, Finland, and Sweden) presented their talks remotely.

The major issues discussed during WGBOSV and WGITMO meetings were related to

(1) the latest methods and technologies for compliance testing of ballast water management systems as well as to the assessment of the risks of vessel biofouling, to the minimization of the extent of it, and to responses to it;

(2) climate change and its impacts on the establishment and spread of ship-mediated non-indigenous species (NIS);

(3) development and utilization of molecular approaches for monitoring and management of NIS, and;

(4) best practices for minimizing the role of aquaculture as a vector for the introduction and transfer of NIS.

The thematic scope of the presentations was very broad and concerned, including topics related to ballast water monitoring, guidelines for granting A-4 exemptions, evaluation of ship in-water cleaning systems, potential of reviewing a proposed standard for biofouling cleaning devices, biofouling on recreational vessels, molecular tools for ballast water research and management, and indicators for the evaluation of the status and impact of NIS in marine environments. All these issues were very closely related to activities implemented under the COMPLETE project, which was presented on the joint day by Lead Partner, M. Karjalainen (Finland). During the WGBOSV and WGITMO meetings, project partners also had the opportunity to present and discuss their work on target species selection for granting exemptions under BWMC (S. Gollasch et al., Germany), an early warning system on findings of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens in the Baltic Sea (S. Olenin et al., Lithuania), the biofouling potential of merchant ships coming into Polish seaports (J. Hegele-Drywa, Poland), and the use of a biofouling assessment protocol for NIS monitoring in Polish marinas (R. Brzana et al., Poland). The talks were given to an audience consisting of a wide range of experts holding international excellence in the relevant field.

An important part of both meetings was also the presentation of annual reports on activities related to the scopes of WGBOSV and WGITMO by experts from each country. In this context, the COMPLETE project has been mentioned a few times by participants from BSR. A joint review of these activities helped to identify research needs and gaps, which in turn is important in further development of collaborative work. On the other hand, the collection of experience and data from national experts is used to support the work of the IMO and ICES.

The outcome of the meetings will be included in the reports of WGBOSV (https://www.ices.dk/community/groups/Pages/WGBOSV.aspx) and WGTIMO (https://www.ices.dk/community/groups/Pages/WGITMO.aspx)  which will be available in due time.