The use of organotin compounds acting as biocides in anti-fouling systems is an international concern of the Member States of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which accordingly adopted on 5 October 2001 the International Convention on the Control of Harmful Antifouling Systems for Ships, the AFS Convention.
It is a framework convention based on the precautionary principle expressed in the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, which allows for the prohibition of harmful anti-fouling systems used on ships in accordance with well-defined procedures.
The International Convention on the Control of Harmful Antifouling Systems for Ships, the AFS Convention, aims to reduce or eliminate harmful effects, on the marine environment and human health, of stannic compounds which act as active biocides in anti-fouling systems used on ships.
National Legal Framework
Following the AFS-Conference, the Commission adopted Commission Directive 2002/62/EC of 9 July 2002, which was transposed into the internal legal order by Decree-Law No. 141/2003 of 2 July, which was intended/aimed? to prohibit, from 1 January 2003, the placing on the market and use of stannic/organostannic compounds for use in antifouling systems for all vessels regardless of their length.
Directive 2002/62/EC amended Directives 94/27/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 June, Directive 1999/43/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 May and Directive 1999/51/EC of 26 May on the restriction of the marketing and use of certain dangerous substances and preparations. These directives were transposed into the internal legal order by Decree-Law No. 256/2000 of 17 October.
For the same purpose, Regulation (EC) 782/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 April 2003 on the prohibition of stannic/organotin compounds on ships, which entered into force on 10 May 2003, and was subsequently amended by Commission Regulation (EC) No 536/2008 of 13 June 2008.
International Legal Framework
The International Convention on the Control of Harmful Antifouling Systems for Ships, the AFS Convention was adopted on 5 October 2001, in the context of a diplomatic conference, the AFS-Conference was held under the auspices/aegis? of the International Maritime Organization.
The text of the AFS Convention establishes the date of 1 January 2003 as the date from which the application of organotin compounds on ships is totally prohibited and the date of 1 January 2008 as the deadline for the elimination of the presence of organotin compounds on ships, unless they have a coating which forms a barrier to such compounds.
The Control of Harmful Antifouling Systems for Ships applies:
As a general rule, the anti-fouling systems of all vessels registered in Portugal or registered in an EU Member State, irrespective of their dimensional characteristics or the waters in which they operate, whether be it marine, coastal, estuarine and inland waterways or lakes, not may contain stannic compounds, in accordance with the following implementation dates:
Vessels Dates Legal requirement
Ships of Gross Tonnage (AB) ≥400 01.01.2008 (1) Regulation (EC) No 782/2003
Ships of AB <400 but of Cpp≥24 m 01.01.2008 (1) Regulation (EC) No 782/2003
Other ships 03.07.2003 (2) Article 2 of Decree-Law No. 141/2003
(1) - unless they have/means a coating that forms a barrier to such compounds from the/by? leaching of underlying non-complying antifouling systems.
(2) - the date establishing the prohibition of the application of anti-fouling systems containing stannic compounds.
International (the AFS Convention)
- Ships flying the flag of a State that is Party to the AFS Convention;
- Ships which, although not flying the flag of a State that is Party to the AFS Convention, operate under the authority of a State that is Party of the Convention;
- Ships that, although are not falling under two previous situations, enter a port, shipyard or offshore terminal of a State that is a Party to the AFS Convention.
Vessels Dates Legal requirement
Ships of Gross Tonnage (AB) ≥400 01.01.2008 (1) the AFS Convention
Ships of AB <400 but of Cpp≥24 m 01.01.2008 (1) the AFS Convention
(1) - unless they have/means a coating that forms a barrier to such compounds from the leaching of underlying non-complying antifouling systems.
The AFS Convention and European Union legislation in this field shall not apply to warships, naval auxiliary units and other ships owned or operated by a Member State and used at the time in question only on government non-commercial public.
Vessels of AB≥400, excluding fixed and floating platforms, floating storage units (FSU) and production units, storage and off-loading (FPSOs) units shall be subject to the following surveys:
- An initial survey before the vessel puts into service or enters, for the first time, dry dock for the application of anti-fouling systems
- An inspection when altering or replacing anti-fouling systems.
The surveys shall be carried out by the Directorate-General for Natural Resources, Safety and Maritime Services, by another Member State which is a Party to the AFS Convention, or by an organization recognized by the Portuguese State. For the remaining ships/ vessels, they are not subject to the surveys defined above.
For ships of AB ≥ 400, an International AFS Antifouling System Certificate is required in accordance with regulation 2 of Annex 4 to the AFS Convention, a specimen of which appears in Appendix 1 to Annex 4 to the AFS-Convention.
For Ships of AB <400 and Cpp ≥ 24 m, an Anti-Fouling System Declaration is required in accordance with regulation 5 of Annex 4 to the AFS Convention, a specimen of which appears in Appendix 2 to Annex 4 to the AFS-Convention. The Declaration must be signed by the owner or agent authorized by the owner. The Declaration must be accompanied by appropriate documentation (such as an invoice from the contractor) or include the appropriate endorsement.
Validity of Certificate and Declaration
A certificate ceases to be valid in any of the following cases:
- If the anti-fouling system is changed or replaced and the Certificate is not endorsed in accordance with the AFS Convention; and
- After transfer of the ship to the flag of another State. A new Certificate shall be issued only when the Party issuing the new Certificate considers that the ship complies with the AFS Convention. In the case of a transfer between the Parties, if requested during the three months thereafter, the Party whose flag the vessel was originally authorized to fly shall, as soon as possible, transmit to the Administration a copy of the Certificates in possession of the vessel prior to the transfer and, if available, a copy of the relevant survey reports.
No AFS Certificate or AFS Statement is required for fixed and floating platforms, floating storage units (FSUs) and floating production, storage and floating transfer (FPSO) units.