Anti-fouling paints containing organo-tin biocides are to be banned worldwide after the assembly of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) today adopted its marine environment protection committee (MEPC) proposal in London. Formal adoption of the proposal, agreed in principle last year (ENDS Daily 6 November 1998), confirms a "global prohibition of the application of organo-tin compounds...on ships by 1 January 2003" and "complete prohibition of the presence of organo-tin compounds....on ships by 1 January 2008". The assembly also voted in favour of an MEPC proposed conference, to develop and adopt a legal instrument to effect the TBT ban. Metal compounds in anti-fouling used to protect the hulls of ships against algae and molluscs have been shown to slowly leach into the water where they can harm sea life and may enter the food chain. One type of TBT anti-fouling has been proven to cause deformations in oysters and sex changes in whelks. Adoption of the proposal by the IMO assembly has met with approval from European environmental NGOs, which have long been campaigning for a ban (ENDS Daily 7 October). A Greenpeace campaigner told ENDS Daily today: "It is obvious TBT should be banned, it has been on the table for such a long time. There have been forces still trying to delay and derail the ban, so it is a good step forward".
International Maritime Organisation, tel: +44 207 735 7611; Greenpeace International, tel: +31 20 523 6222.
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