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A conference to adopt the International Maritime Organization's Anti-fouling Systems (AFS) Convention was held in October 2001. The AFS Convention proposes to ensure a global prohibition of the application or reapplication of organotin compounds (tributyl tin [TBT]) that act as biocides in anti-fouling systems on ships as of January 1, 2003. After January 1, 2008, organotin compounds on ships must either be removed or sealed. The AFS Convention also establishes procedures for implementing controls for any other harmful systems that are identified in the future. The AFS Convention has not yet entered into force.
The sale and use of products such as organotin paints are regulated by Health Canada. There were only three tin paint products registered for use in Canada. The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) indicated in a Special Review Announcement that all registrations and use of organotin-based anti-fouling paints ceased to be effective December 31, 2002. The PMRA maintains a list of currently registered anti-fouling paints that may be imported, sold or used in Canada.
The AFS Convention supports Canadian initiatives. Under the Canada Shipping Act, the Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships and for Dangerous Chemicals apply to all ships in Canadian waters and to all Canadian ships everywhere. Division 7 requires ships of 400 tons gross tonnage or more to have on board an anti-fouling certificate and those that are under 400 tons gross tonnage but 24 m or more in length to have on board a self-declaration. This Division bans the use of TBTs as an anti-fouling system on all ships. The regulations require the removal or encapsulation of coatings containing TBTs by 2008. These regulations stop Canadian operators from having the coating applied outside of Canada and putting the ship into service in Canadian waters.
It also stops persons from transferring into Canadian registry ships with this type of coating without it being removed or encapsulated. The provisions of this Division will be applied to non-Canadian ships only when the AFS Convention enters into force. Adoption of these requirements will permit Canada to accede to the AFS Convention that, in turn, will help bring the AFS Convention closer to entry into force.