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Owners Paid to Drop Copper Antifouling

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

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California boat owners are getting a big, juicy carrot along with some legislative sticks to discontinue use of copper-based antifouling paints.

The Shelter Island Yacht Basin, in the Port of San Diego, is offering to help subsidize the removal of copper-based coating from privately owned boats if the owners replace it with a non-biocide hull paint.

The so-called Hull Paint Conversion Program is funded through a $600,000 State Water Resources Control Board grant aimed at reducing copper pollution in San Diego Bay. The money is expected to benefit 200 to 250 boats over three years.

Stripping Subsidy

The program offers boat owners $6.30 per square foot to offset the cost of stripping copper-based paint from their boat. For example, a 32-foot power boat with a 350-square-foot hull would be eligible for more than $2,000 toward the cost of hull paint stripping, the program site says.

 Shelter Island Yacht Basin
Boat owners in Shelter Island Yacht Basin must use a participating local shipyard to participate in the program.

The work must be completed at one of six area boatyards participating in the program, and the program pays the boatyard directly for the approved costs. The program began this month and runs until June 30, 2014, or until the funds run out.

Recipients would have to pay for application of new, non-biocide hull paint and would have to agree to keep their boats at a slip in the Shelter Island Yacht Basin for three years. Owners who permanently relocate their boat sooner must reimburse the port for the subsidy.

Rising Tide against Copper

Although the program is aimed at recreational boaters for now, it is likely to fuel rising concern by coatings makers over the growing trend against copper-based hull paints. Both California and Washington State have legislation pending that would ban the use of copper-based antifouling paints on recreational vessels.

The American Coatings Association, which represents coating manufacturers, has said such legislation could “serve as a terrible precedent for other U.S., foreign and international authorities to follow.”

Pollution Targeted

The Hull Paint Conversion Program was developed after water regulators identified the Shelter Island Yacht Basin as an area where high copper levels exceed federal and state standards. A regulatory order requires the port, marinas, yacht clubs, hull cleaners and boaters to reduce copper pollution in the area by 76% by 2022.

 The Port of San Diego
The Port of San Diego is under orders to drastically reduce copper pollution levels by 2022.

“Eliminating copper hull paints, a significant source of contamination, is key to solving this environmental problem,” according the program’s website.

Non-biocide hull paints, often composed of either silicone or ceramic-epoxy materials, are free of copper, zinc and other polluting chemicals that are released into the water. Non-biocides protect the boat in other ways. For example, some create a slippery surface that makes it difficult for barnacles, algae and other fouling to attach.

Savings Cited

The paint program cites cost analyses by the port and the UC Coastal Resources Program-San Diego County showing long-term savings from the use of non-biocide paints. Some of these paints last longer than copper hull paints, the analyses show.

Although the program warns boat owners, “Don’t be surprised if your upfront costs for non-biocide hull paint are higher than copper hull paint,” it cites a federally funded study showing that the cost of the paints is similar “when examined over the life of the product. This is similar to how a hybrid vehicle may cost more money up front, but will save you money on fuel in the long term.”

It also notes that non-biocide paints do not need to be stripped later to apply a new coat of non-biocide paint.


Tagged categories: Antifoulants; Copper; Green coatings; Marine; Marine Coatings

Comment from Neal Blossom, (7/14/2011, 9:50 AM)

While copper in SIYB does it exceed water quality standards the amount of actually measured toxicity is very limited. Efforts are underway to make the legislation proposed in California to mitigation strategies where copper AF will remain as an option butits input will be decreased through use of the latest already available copper AF coatings which have lower leach rates and through better best management practices used by the in-water hull cleaning industry. The real threat to teh ecosystem is not copper or any other FIFRA registered AF products; it is invasive species. The most effective EPA aproved AF products that prevent invasive species translocation are the best coatings for the environment.

Comment from Jerry LeCompte, (7/14/2011, 9:51 AM)

Why should the State of California pay for new bottom jobs. I thought California was broke.

Comment from James Johnson, (7/14/2011, 10:24 AM)

California is broke and this is an excellent example of why. What this really is is a carrot to get people to keep their boats long term at that location. Note that if you leave before 3 years you have to reimburse the money.

Comment from James Weber, (7/15/2011, 9:06 AM)

Hmm...they must use the "participating local shipyard" to do the work. I wonder which politicians have ties to the shipyard?

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