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MCA release a consultation on the draft Merchant Shipping (Anti-Fouling Systems) Regulations 2024

Published on: 23 November 2023


Share your views

The MCA consultation seeks your views on the draft of The Merchant Shipping (Anti-Fouling Systems) Regulations 2024. The draft regulations are intended to implement the changes agreed at the International Maritime Organization (“the IMO”) to the International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-Fouling Systems on Ships, 2001.

These amendments include the ban of the use of cybutryne in anti-fouling systems. The regulations seek to prevent harm caused by substances in anti-fouling systems that leach into the aquatic environment and cause harm to marine life.

The draft regulations will apply to all UK flagged ships, wherever they may be, and other flagged ships whilst in UK waters. Ships to which the draft regulations apply will be under an obligation to ensure that their anti-fouling systems do not include organotin compounds, which act as a biocide in anti-fouling systems, or cybutryne, in accordance with the obligations listed in Annex I to the Convention.

These obligations comprise:

  • a prohibition on the application or re-application of an anti-fouling system containing a compound listed in Annex 1 to the Convention;

(A) in relation to organotin compounds,

  • a prohibition on bearing an organotin compound which acts as a biocide in anti-fouling systems on its hull or another external part or surface;
  • a requirement to bear a coating which forms a barrier to prevent an organotin compound which acts as a biocide leaching from the anti-fouling system containing that substance; and

(B) in relation to cybutryne,

  • a prohibition on bearing this substance, or a requirement to bear a coating to prevent leaching of this substance, which must be met no later than the earliest scheduled renewal of the anti-fouling system after the date on which the draft regulations come into force, and in any event by 31st December 2027.

The draft regulations require ships of 400 gross tonnage (GT) and above that are engaged on international voyages to be subject to the survey and certification requirements. This is to ensure that their anti-fouling system fully complies with the Convention requirements. Ships of less than 400GT and of 24 metres or more in length, engaged on international voyages, are required to carry a Declaration which must be accompanied by appropriate documentation (for example, a paint receipt). Survey and certification requirements do not apply to fixed or floating platforms, floating storage units or floating production storage and off-loading units.

The consultation runs until midnight on the 11 December 2023, full details of the consultation including how to respond can be found on the website here