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The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted a legally binding Convention banning the application of organotin anti-fouling paints on ships' hulls by 2003 and its presence by 2008. This requires not less than 25 States, the combined merchant fleets of which constitute not less than 25% of the gross tonnage of the world(s merchant shipping, it is not likely that the Convention will enter into force by 2003. Hence, WWF is seeking commitments from industry and government to show active support for the IMO Convention. This will be achieved through eliminating the use of organotin anti-fouling paints, with action taken to bring about such elimination of the use organotins before the date proposed by the IMO of 2003.
The main qualification for membership in the 2003 Group (organotin free group) will be that the industry player concerned is fully organotin free by January 1st 2003. Membership will not be granted to the shipping companies unless their entire fleet is organotin free by 2003.
Organotin compounds, such as TBT, are considered to be amongst the most toxic chemicals ever released into the marine environment. Even at very low concentrations, they have been shown to produce serious negative impacts upon marine life. These cause the disruption of the hormone systems in marine invertebrates, such as dogwhelks, causing females to acquire the sexual characteristics of males. Recent studies show that organotins are present in marine species at all levels of the ecosystem: fish, birds and mammals and possible human endocrine disrupting properties of organotins have been seen.
Anti-fouling paints on ships' hulls is a major source of organotins. Organotin paint has been partially banned for use on smaller vessels. This has been shown to reduce levels of organotin, but their continued use on larger ships, and the fact that the compounds can persist in sediments for a lengthy time period, means that the marine environment is still saturated with these chemicals at unacceptably high levels.
To support conservation of marine biodiversity and reduce destructive human impacts it is imperative that the use of these organotin compounds be phased out. This chemical is considered to be the most toxic chemical ever deliberately released into the marine environment.
Pollution Prevention Officer
WWF Germany - Marine and Coastal Division
Am GŁthpol 11
D - 28757 Bremen
Dr. Simon Vowles
WWF, Panda House, Weyside Park
Godalming GU7 1XR
Tel. +49 421 65846 16
Fax +49 421 65846 26
Tel ++44 1483 426 444
email: _ HYPERLINK mailto:Cameron@wwf.de __Cameron@wwf.de_