The British Coatings Federation (BCF) Marine Coatings Group says there is a concern that authorities may decide to restrict the application and use of antifouling (AF) paints to strictly professional applicators and organisations.

This is due to the concerns over the hazards related to these paints and would mean that the common current practice of boat-owners applying AF paints to their vessels (the ‘DIY’ market) would no longer be permitted.

A survey has been launched on ‘DIY Use of Antifouling Paints in the UK’, which will run until 30 November 2015. Find the survey at:

The main objectives for this survey are:

  • to raise awareness amongst the boat-owning community regarding this issue
  • to determine the current practice related to anti-fouling paint use by the DIY market
  • to determine the awareness of users to the hazards of AF paint, and emphasize the importance of using appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • to provide an indication as to the impact on AF paint sales, boat maintenance costs and leisure boat ownership, if such a restriction becomes law

International - Our World is Water Round Britain Antifouling trial


The survey consists of four separate (similar) questionnaires, each designed according to the target respondents: one for the boat-owners; one for the chandlers; one for the professional applicators; and one for the boat yard managers or owners.

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The responses will form the basis for a report from the BCF, providing an overall picture of the DIY application of AF paints in the UK, which may then be used as a basis for determining what further support activity is required, for example education tools on hazards and the use of PPE, potential need for advocacy to defend the use of AF paints in the DIY or leisure sector.

Tom Bowtell, BCF’s chief executive officer, said: ‘In our experience, regulators will always assume the worst case on the grounds of the precautionary principle, especially when there is little evidence to support an argument.

‘That is why we need to survey those involved to gather that evidence, and help convince Government and authorities that boat owners can use antifouling paints in a responsible way.

‘Given that nearly 400 DIY users completed the survey in the first two days since its launch, we are hopeful that we will gain a genuine picture of how antifouling paints are used.’

The BCF is the sole Trade Association representing the UK paints, printing inks, powder coatings and wallcoverings manufacturers.

Royal Yachting Association (RYA) cruising manager Stuart Carruthers said: ‘Antifouling paint has an important role to play in combatting the spread of invasive non-native species (INNS) and other harmful organisms but, by its very nature, antifouling can also pose a risk to humans and to the environment. The use of biocides like antifouling are therefore closely regulated under EU law.

‘As required by EU law, member states are currently conducting a review of the biocides that are covered by the Biocides Regulation of 2012. We acknowledge that it is important to keep the list of regulated biocides under review but we would be concerned should the review result in any proposal to ban the use of, or weaken, antifouling paint on recreational craft, which could undermine efforts to combat the threat of INNS.’