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Marine Log

March 22, 2007

Plea for ratification of antifouling convention

Many major flag states with significant shipping tonnage, including the United States, have yet to ratify the International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-Fouling Systems on Ships.

Now the coatings industry is making a call for ratification, It comes from the Anti-Fouling Working Group of the International Paint and Printing Ink Council (IPPIC), for which the Washington, D.C., based National Paint & Coatings Association (NPCA) serves as Secretariat.

The convention was adopted under the auspices of IMO in October 2001. It calls for the elimination of the application of organotin acting as biocides effective Jan. 1, 2003 and the presence of organotins on ships effective Jan. 1, 2008.

In addition to the ban on organotins, the convention will establish a system for regulating anti-fouling systems that might be used on ships in the future.

The convention will come into force when 25 countries with 25 percent of the world’s tonnage ratify it. As of Feb. 1, 2007, 19 countries with approximately 16 percent of the shipping tonnage had ratified.

The industry's concern, says NPCA, is heightened by the convention's looming January 2008 deadline for the elimination of organotin compounds from ships' hulls or its effective containment on hulls. When the treaty is finally ratified, it becomes immediately effective, e.g., on that date all ships with uncontained organotin compounds on the hull will be banned from the waters of the ratifying countries.

To effectively meet the date, work on the ships should be under way now.

The delay is causing confusion in a worldwide industry that has to apply coatings, that are expected to last for three to five years, on large ships.

Some countries and regions have enacted bans independently of the convention. The European Union (EU), for example, has already enacted legislation to implement its terms of the treaty. Ships with uncontained organotin compounds on their hulls on January 2008 will be in violation of the EU requirements and could be denied entry to EU ports irrespective of the convention's status.