The purpose of this Regulation is to reduce or eliminate adverse effects on the marine environment and human health caused by organotin compounds, which act as active biocides in anti-fouling systems used on ships. Scope
This Regulation apples to ships flying the flag of a Member State or being operated under the authority of a Member State, and ships that enter a port or offshore terminal of a Member State. This Regulation shall not apply to any warship, naval auxiliary or other ship owned or operated by a State and used, for the time being, only on government non-commercial service.Background
During the '60s the chemical industry developed efficacious
anti-fouling paints using metallic compounds, in particular the
organotin compounds tributyltin (TBT) and triphenyltin (TPT). These surface coatings are designed to prevent the attachment of algae, molluscs and other organisms which slow down vessel speeds.
These chemicals are highly toxic for sealife (larvae, mussels, oysters and fish). These compounds slowly "leach" into the sea water, killing barnacles and other marine life that have attached to the ship. But the studies have shown that these compounds persist in the water, killing sealife, harming the environment and possibly entering the food chain. Regulation (EC) No 782/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 April 2003 on the prohibition of organotin compounds on ships Summary of the EU legislation related to Maritime safety: prohibition of organotin compounds on ships IMO: International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships
Organotin is toxic in the marine environment at extremely low concentrations and has been shown to interfere with the biological processes in a diverse range of species. It has been found to bioaccumulate in whales and other sea mammals and disrupt the endocrine system of a range of invertebrates leading to sterility and death. For this reason, they have been banned in many European countries, while several Community directives (Directive 76/769/EEC and the successive amendments thereto) provide for regular monitoring of organotin compound levels.