An international convention banning the use of harmful organotins in anti-fouling paints used on ships' hulls will enter into force on September 17, 2008, following accession to the treaty by Panama on September 17, 2007.
The International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-Fouling Systems on Ships (AFS Convention) was adopted on October 5, 2001 by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.
Under the terms of the Convention, it enters into force 12 months after 25 States representing 25 per cent of the world's merchant shipping tonnage have ratified it. With the ratification by Panama, the AFS Convention has been ratified by 25 States, with a combined 38.11 per cent of world merchant shipping tonnage.
When the Convention is in force, ships will no longer be permitted to apply or re-apply organotin compounds which act as biocides in their anti-fouling systems; ships either shall not bear such compounds on their hulls or external parts or surface or, for ships already carrying such compounds on their hulls, a coating that forms a barrier to such compounds will have to be applied to prevent them leaching from the underlying non-compliant anti-fouling systems. The Convention also establishes a mechanism to evaluate and assess other anti-fouling systems and prevent the potential future use of other harmful substances in these systems.
The Convention will apply to ships flying the flag of a Party to the Convention, as well as ships not entitled to fly their flag but which operate under their authority and to all ships that enter a port, shipyard or offshore terminal of a Party. It will apply to all ships, including fixed or floating platforms, floating storage units (FSUs), and floating production storage and off-loading units (FPSOs).