Adherence to anti-fouling Legislation

Tomás Fernández-Quirós Tuñón.

28/11/2007 International Law Office


On November 7 2007 the Spanish Gazette published Spain’s statement of adherence to the International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships, adopted on October 5 2001.

The convention aims to prohibit the use of harmful organotin compounds in anti-fouling paints used on ships and to establish a mechanism to prevent the potential use of other harmful substances in anti-fouling systems. The convention’s implementation follows general concern about the environmental damage caused by the use of organotin compounds, leading to the International Maritime Organization phasing out their use through regulation.

Ships to which the convention applies must carry a certificate issued by their flag state affirming compliance with the convention’s terms. This certificate will be issued following the successful completion of a survey by the flag state. Ships greater or equal to 24 metres in length but of less than 400 gross tonnage which are engaged in international voyages will not require certification, but must carry onboard a declaration on anti-fouling systems following the model form annexed to the convention. This must be signed by the ship’s owner or its authorized agent. In these cases, the declaration must either be accompanied by supporting documentation (ie, a paint receipt or a contractor invoice) or contain an appropriate endorsement.

Spanish authorities will have the right to check whether ships calling at Spanish ports are using harmful anti-fouling systems. Such checks must be made not only of Spanish-flagged ships, but also of all ships entering a Spanish port, shipyard or offshore terminal.

Such inspections will be limited to verifying whether the ship is carrying a certificate or declaration on anti-fouling systems following the model forms annexed to the convention, and a brief sample of the ship’s anti-fouling system. Although this verification could delay the movement or departure of the ship, it is stated that any delay will not continue while the sample results are being processed.

The convention states that thorough inspections will be carried out only if there are clear grounds to believe that the ship concerned is in violation of the convention. The measures the inspecting officers can take include the detention, dismissal or exclusion of the ship from their ports.

The convention shall enter into force in Spain on September 17 2008.