Ban on Toxic Ship Paint Agreed
Article courtesy of Lycos Environmental News
United Kingdom, (ENS) - Ship paint containing the
harmful compounds known as organotins will be restricted
as of January 1, 2003 and banned five years later, members
of the world's primary maritime organization have agreed.
Anti-fouling paints are painted on the bottoms of ships
to prevent sea life such as algae and molluscs from adhering
to the hulls where they slow down the vessels and increase
fuel consumption. These compounds leach into the sea water,
killing marine life attached to the ship. Studies have shown
that these compounds persist in the water, killing sea life,
harming the environment and possibly entering the food chain.
After keen debate, representatives of the 159 Member States
of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted
the new convention Friday ending a five day diplomatic
conference at IMO headquarters in London. The IMO is the
United Nations specialized agency responsible for the
safety of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution
The newly agreed International Convention on the Control
of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships calls for a global
prohibition on the application of organotin compounds
which act as biocides in anti-fouling systems on ships
by January 1, 2003, and a complete prohibition by January
The conference had seen intense debate, O'Neill acknowledged.
But he said, "The IMO spirit of goodwill, understanding
and compromise on the part of the many delegates and observers
from all over the world made it possible to reach consensus
on important issues, such as entry into force criteria."
efforts will now turn to ensuring the convention is brought
into force as soon as possible," O'Neil said, and asked
Parties to do their utmost to prepare for implementing
the convention "as a matter of urgency."
Greenpeace, an observer at the IMO conference, says that
years of work by its campaigners and those of other environmental
groups led to the agreement.
taken years of hard discussions to arrive at this commitment,
but today's treaty is a positive step in the right direction,
said Greenpeace toxics campaigner, Martin Besieux, at
the IMO meeting. "It sends a clear signal to the shipping,
paint and chemical industries that their days of abusing
the marine environment are finally over and they must
stop producing and using toxic paints."
Under the terms of the new convention, Parties are required
to prohibit and/or restrict the use of harmful anti-fouling
systems on ships flying their flag, as well as ships not
entitled to fly their flag but which operate under their
authority and all ships that enter a port, shipyard or
offshore terminal of a Party.
The agreement prohibits the use of organotins in anti-fouling
paints used on ships and will establish a mechanism to
prevent the potential future use of other harmful substances
in anti-fouling systems. Anti-fouling systems to be banned
or controlled will be listed in an annex to the convention,
which will be updated as necessary.
Ships of 400 gross tonnage and above engaged in international
voyages will have to undergo an initial survey before
the ship is put into service or before an International
Anti-fouling System Certificate is issued for the first
time. Further surveys must be undertaken when the anti-fouling
systems are changed or replaced.
Ships of 24 meters (78 feet) or more in length but less
than 400 gross tonnage engaged in international voyages
will have to carry a Declaration on Anti-fouling Systems
signed by the owner or authorized agent. The declaration
will have to be accompanied by documentation such as a
paint receipt or contractor invoice.
One of the most effective anti-fouling paints, developed
in the 1960s, contains the organotin tributylin (TBT),
which has been proven to cause deformations in oysters
and sex changes in whelks.
TBT has been found to impair the immune systems of some
organisms. Once in the marine environment, TBT can travel
far from the source of contamination and has been found
in the tissues of cetaceans, seals, sea otters and water
birds around the world.
decision is a victory for the marine environment that
is being severely damaged by toxic ship paints," said
Besieux. "It illustrates a growing awareness that there's
no place for hazardous products in today's world."
By January 1, 2003, all ships shall not apply or re-apply
organotin compounds which act as biocides in anti-fouling
By January 1, 2008, ships either shall not bear such compounds
on their hulls or external parts or surfaces; or shall
bear a coating that forms a barrier to such compounds
leaching from the underlying non-compliant anti-fouling