The TBT ban

Tributyltin (TBT) is an active ingredient in certain antifouling paints used on ships and is one of the most dangerous substances ever deliberately introduced into the marine environment. An EU ban on the presence of TBT-based antifoulings on ships hulls in EU ports came into effect on 1st January 2008.

Concerns over the effects of TBT on marine life go back many years. When the environmental effects of TBT were felt in inshore areas its use on small vessels was restricted, and in 2001 after similar effects were documented in open waters the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) adopted the International Convention on the Control of Harmful Antifouling Systems on Ships (AFS Convention). The AFS Convention took seven years to enter into force and did so on the 17th September 2008 banning globally both the application and presence on ships hulls of TBT-based antifoulings.

In the meantime the European Union, via Regulation (EC) No. 782/2003, banned the application of TBT-based paints on EU-flagged vessels and as of 1st January 2008 made it an offence for any ship visiting an EU port to have TBT present on its hull. All EU flagged vessels and all other vessels visiting EU ports should have been TBT-free by this date.

Enforcement of both the Regulation and the AFS Convention should now be a priority for European port authorities.

AFS Convention (18/10/01).
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Regulation (EC) 782/2003 (14/4/03).
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Evidence of the continuing global impact of TBT: A joint-NGO submission to the IMO (7/7/06).
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Joint Seas At Risk / WWF letter to the Transport Ministers of the UK, Belgium, Malta, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands regarding non-ratification of the AFS Convention and enforcement of Regulation (EC) 782/2003 (20/4/07).
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Joint Seas At Risk / WWF letter to the Transport Ministers of the other EU Member States regarding national preparations for enforcement of Regulation (EC) 782/2003 (20/4/07).
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Seas At Risk's work on TBT is part funded by and undertaken in cooperation with WWF-UK.