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Antifouling and Biocides

The issue

It is thought that certain species are sensitive to the copper biocides commonly used in antifouling paints. Even low levels of copper compounds are toxic to them and the use of copper based antifouling has been banned in some European countries. It is recognised that the potential for impact is greatest where concentrated copper scrapings are allowed to enter the water, rather than the slow leaching process of the antifouling from the boat hulls. Boat owners and users, have a responsibility to prevent as much antifouling as possible from entering the sea and waterways. There are of course simple steps that can be taken to prevent antifouling paint and residue leeching into the water.


The message to recreational boater is confusing, in that the European Commission has introduced regulation concerning invasive alien species (IAS), but at the same time appears to be prohibiting the use of effective biocides in antifouling to inhibit growth on boat hulls. This is counterproductive and makes it harder for recreational boaters to keep their boats clean.

Recreational boaters need some form of application to prevent growth on hulls of pleasure craft and the risk of transporting IAS must be balanced against the need to minimise contamination of sediment in boat harbours .

EBA Working Group on Antifouling and Biocides

The EBA’s Swedish member, Svenska Båtunionen, has led working group to establish the extent of the problem as a result of differing implementation of the Directives in EU Member States.