SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California State Senate is about to consider a bill to ban copper antifouling paint for recreational boats, otherwise known as bottom paint. California Senate Bill 623 has passed through two committees and is now headed to a vote by the full Senate.
Because the proposal will affect maintenance options available for boaters, sailors and anglers who keep their boats in the water, the Boat Owners Association of The United States is encouraging California boat owners share their opposition to the bill.
The ban in the bill would take effect as follows:
After 1/1/2015: Prohibit the sale of new recreational boats with copper bottom paint.
After 1/1/2019: Prohibit the use or application of antifouling paint containing copper on recreational boats.
“BoatUS has been monitoring developments in alternative antifouling paints for more than a decade and understands the origins and respects the good environmental intentions of this bill,” the group said in a statement. “However, currently there are few effective and cost-conscious alternatives to keep hulls clean. The March 2011 issue of the well-regarded Practical Sailor magazine analyzed 62 antifouling paints, of which 12 contained no copper. In terms of performance, just one non-copper bottom paint (which contained zinc) rated ‘excellent,’ one rated ‘fair,’ and ten rated ‘poor.'”
BoatUS says it also has concerns that recreational boaters are being unfairly singled out, since the ban would only apply to recreational boats, which the group believes may not provide a large enough market to stimulate research and development on new alternative coatings. Larger commercial and military vessels would still be able to use copper paints.
In addition, copper paints currently serve as the primary defense against invasive species transfer from hulls to waterways.
“Bringing new products to market takes significant lead time and money,” said BoatUS Vice President of Government Affairs Margaret Podlich. “How do we know there will be alternatives that are effective and affordable by the bill’s deadline? We recognize that there are many opinions about this bill, and encourage boaters to contact your state Senator to express your own views. We support innovation in antifouling paint and we hope that sustainable solutions for boaters and the environment can be found.”