Member governments of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) have agreed in principle to institute a complete global ban on the use of organotin antifouling paints from 2003 at a meeting held in London this week. The IMO marine environment protection committee is now to draft a legal instrument along these lines, for formal adoption in late 1999. IMO parties already gave a strong political signal in favour of a ban at a meeting held in April (ENDS Daily 1 April). This week's decision brings forward the likely date of its entry into force by three years and fixes other details. These include a request to the committee to propose a ban on the presence of organotin paints on any ship from 2008 and a mechanism for evaluating the environmental effects of non-organotin antifouling paints. Northern European countries have been in the vanguard of a movement to phase out organotin paints such as tributyl tin, which have been shown to damage shellfish. However, this week's agreement appears to have been reached with little controversy barring an objection from Liberia, which was withdrawn during the session.
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