The environmental impact of invasive species is of great concern for all kinds of waterbodies around the globe. Invasive species may cause reductions in biodiversity and ecosystem resilience, with resultant effects on communities’ livelihoods and well-being. The risks associated with invasive species will also be increased by the changing climate, as species move and are able to colonize new environments.
Hull fouling is regarded as a contributor to the spread of invasive or alien species and the issue is being addressed on a global scale by international organisations like the World Ocean Council (WOC) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The proposed actions focus on shipping and the marine industry, where improvements are being sought in biofouling management. Apart from prevention a lot of effort is being put into research and development to create more effective antifouling applications.
Within the European Union the “Biocide Directive” stipulates strict limitations for the use of biocide components that may be used in a wide range of products; among them anti fouling applications.
The European Boating Association (EBA), being aware that the hull fouling issue is equally applicable to Recreational Boating , is concerned that the currently available antifouling products that are permitted within the set limitations are ineffective to prevent hull fouling and introduce a higher risk of spreading alien aquatic species. As hull fouling also reduces a boat’s performance, ineffective control of hull fouling will also increase the need for in-water cleaning.
The EBA urges regulators to take steps to mitigate the contradiction that is created between the Biocide Directive and the Global initiative to reduce the risk of introducing alien aquatic species by hull fouling.
The EBA is of the opinion that the current situation where legal limits set by the biocide directive and even stricter adherence of these limits by certain Member States has created a range of ineffective products that may be used for recreational boats with significant increase of aquatic hull fouling as a direct result, thus introducing a new path for the spread of alien species.
The EBA is committed to informing the recreational boating community about the risk of spreading alien aquatic species when hull fouling occurs. At the same time EBA will advise recreational boaters that they should clean their boats before they undertake long journeys in order to avoid the above mentioned risk even if this means in water cleaning; in water cleaning in the home environment should only remove natural species.
The EBA believes that regulators should take steps to mitigate the contradiction that is created between the Biocide Directive, leading to ineffective antifouling applications available for recreational boating, and the Global initiative to reduce the risk of introducing alien aquatic species by hull fouling. The EBA opposes the split in regulations regarding use of products between professional shipping and recreational boating.
The EBA is supportive of efforts to develop effective alternatives to traditional methods of controlling hull fouling.