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October 9, 2001

IMO adopts convention on control of harmful anti-fouling systems
A new IMO convention will prohibit the use of harmful 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.

The conference adopted an annex to the convention stating that by an effective date of January 1, 2003,ships shall not apply or re-apply organotins compounds which act as biocides in anti-fouling systems.

By January 1, 2008 ships must either be organotin-free or "bear a coating that forms a barrier to such compounds leaching from the underlying non-compliant anti-fouling systems."

This applies to all ships (including fixed and floating platforms, floating storage units (FSUs), and Floating Production Storage and Offtake units (FPSOs).

The convention includes a clause that states that a ship shall be entitled to compensation if it is unduly detained or delayed while undergoing inspection for possible violations.

The convention provides for the establishment of a "technical group", to include people with relevant expertise, to review proposals for prohibition or restriction of other substances used in anti-fouling systems.

The International Convention on the control of harmful anti-fouling systems on ships was adopted on October 5, 2001 at the end of a five-day diplomatic conference held at IMO Headquarters in London.

Countries that are parties to the convention 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 their ports, shipyards or offshore terminals.  

Ships of above 400 gross tonnage and above engaged in international voyages (excluding fixed or floating platforms, FSUs and FPSOs) will be required to undergo an initial survey before being put into service or before a new 'International Anti-fouling System Certificate' is issued for the first time. A survey is required when the anti-fouling systems are changed or replaced.

Ships of 24 meters or more in length but less than 400 gross tonnage engaged in international voyages (excluding fixed or floating platforms, FSUs and FPSOs) will have to carry a "Declaration on Anti-fouling Systems" signed by the owner or authorized agent. It will have to be accompanied by appropriate documentation such as a paint receipt or contractor invoice.

Anti-fouling systems to be prohibited or controlled will be listed in an annex to the convention that will be updated as and when necessary.

IMO Secretary-General William A. O'Neil said "our efforts will now turn to ensuring the convention is brought into force as soon as possible." He added that the conference had seen intense debate, but noted that 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."

O'Neil emphasized the importance of Conference Resolution 1, which invites IMO member states of the Organization to do their utmost to prepare for implementing the convention as a matter of urgency.   It also urges the relevant industries to refrain from marketing, sale and application of the substances controlled by the convention.

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