Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Foul Antifoulant

Bottoms up boaters. Starting on January 1st, 2008, the IMO’s zero-tolerance ban on Tributylin (TBT) will be in effect. Prior to 2003, the biocide TBT was a common additive to antifouling, keeping legions of hull growth at bay. Unfortunately, as TBT leached out of the antifouling, it settled on the seabed, where it continued to be effective at suppressing life. High levels of the toxin were found throughout the aquatic food web, including inside the carcasses of poisoned dolphins and otters. And although the effect on these environmental poster-children was grim, TBT's imposition on one mollusk, called the dog whelk, was...let me just say, disturbing: "TBT causes dog whelks to suffer from imposex: females develop male sexual characteristics such as a penis. This causes them to become infertile or even die. In severe cases males can develop egg sacs."

Although an IMO ban on applying TBT to vessels has been active since 2003, the upcoming 2008 ban will go further, requiring any vessel with TBT in its antifouling to have its bottom either sealed with an approved sealant or stripped and repainted. Vessels over 24 meters (~79 ft) and under 400 gross tons will be required to have both a TBT-free antifouling certificate and documentation of the work (ie: a paint receipt, etc.)

The European Union has surpassed the IMO's ban with even stricter legislation; if your vessel attempts to voyage through European waters without TBT-free antifouling, she may be subject to a fine and will not be allowed to enter any port.

Even without Europe on your itinerary, if your vessel's bottom has not been repainted in the past 5 years, it’s time to adjust the lift's slings for a haul-out. As you open your wallet to purchase the updated paint, just remember this: an androgynous whelk is a friend to no man.

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