In July last year, the European Commission published amendments to Council Directive 76/769/EEC. The effect is that marketing and use of TBT paints for ships is prohibited in the EU from 1 January 2003. Shipyards in the EU are not be allowed to apply TBT paints. As a separate measure, the Commission is preparing a Regulation, which will prohibit the fresh application of TBT paints on ships flying the flag of an EU member state. The latest estimate of coming into force for this Regulation is 1 July 2003, but it may be later still. Non-EU flagged ships will be able to trade into and out of European ports and not be affected by these new rules.
The driving force for these EU measures has been the IMO Convention on Anti-fouling Systems. AWES has actively participated in the preparation of the AFS Convention, and welcomes it as an important marine environmental improvement measure. The Convention will apply on a global basis. To bring the Convention into effect, it needs ratification by 25 IMO states representing 25% of the world’s merchant shipping tonnage. AWES notes that the triggers could be provided by EU member states and the EU accession countries and the fleets flagged to them (30 countries and over 30% of world tonnage). To date, no member state of the EU has ratified the Convention.
As matters stand, EU shipyards are from 1 January 2003 not allowed to apply TBT paints, while their competitors outside the EU can still do so. Ships coated with TBT outside the EU will be able to operate in EU waters up to 2008. There will thus be little benefit to the marine environment, but there will be substantial competitive disadvantage to Europe’s repair yards. There is the prospect of direct and significant injury to some 400 repair yards in Europe, employing about 40,000 people and with a turnover of about €3bn pa. Scheduled repair work usually involves painting, and this can represent up to 50% of the cost of the entire repair work. Many owners still prefer to have a TBT coating if they can, and they can take their ship for repair to the yards that can offer them their coating of choice.