A few years back, there was a question mark hanging over the common British practice of antifouling your own yacht. A failure to stick to best practice on wearing gloves, glasses and masks made the Health and Safety Executive nervous, while the Environment Agency was concerned about the amount of toxic old antifouling paint that was finding its way into marine ecosystems.
There was a concerted push by the British paint industry, as well as the Royal Yachting Association and industry body British Marine to get DIY painters to up their game. They put out a confetti shower of leaflets, posters and guidance to boatowners as part of their ‘Protect, Collect, Dispose’ campaign. And the industry’s Green Blue initiative tried to raise awareness of marine pollution among boaters generally.
Four years on, it is very hard to determine what has changed nationally. Although marinas and boatyards have been urged to install water collection and filtration equipment to ensure that old paint can’t run off and pollute the water, no-one has followed up on this. And in fact, no-one thinks it is their job to do so. “It is ultimately the responsibility of the marinas/ boatowners to follow [up],” according to Emily Bradley of industry body the British Coatings Federation.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that there has been only limited take-up. According to the RYA, “marinas and boatyards with suitably bunded facilities are not that common.” The Green Blue offers a map of the British marinas with some sort of environmental facilities installed (thegreenblue.org.uk), and this currently shows just six marinas can collect contaminated wash-down water. Premier says it is planning to install facilities soon, Boatfolk says three of its six marinas are equipped with ‘interceptors’ and Yacht Havens has equipped more complex collection facilities in its three marinas that have boatyards. With water pollution high on the Government’s agenda ahead and a new Environment Bill expected in March, there must be some concerns within the industry.
Better news is that the majority of boatowners seem to be aware of best practice when it comes to antifouling the boat. A survey by the industry in 2016 found that 97 per cent of boaters wore gloves for antifouling, while 74 per cent wore face masks. And the industry is busy innovating with novel types of antifouling which are free of traditional biocides. Here is a round up of the options, and a look at what is new.
Now that the UK has left the EU, we were keen to learn how our regulators planned to use their newly returned control. It might surprise you to know, then, that there is literally no change in the paint sector post-Brexit. That’s because the UK has simply copypasted the previous EU Biocidal Products Regulation into British law and put it under the control of the Health & Safety Executive. “This gives an element of reassurance to UK antifoul manufacturers and distributors placing products on shelves, meaning there are no physical changes to formulations at this point in time,” says Geoff Mackrill, director of Teal & Mackrill, which manufacturers the Teamac brand of paints. On the other hand, it duplicates the cost of compliance. “The question is: will the UK market justify spend on all or just some of the costs?” Reading between the lines, British boatowners could see a narrower choice of product available in the future.
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