Although most boat owners will not have been aware of it, over the past three years the Government's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reassessed all antifouling paints used in New Zealand.

The aim has been to ensure that both the environment and those applying the paints are properly protected, preferably without unduly compromising the effectiveness of the antifouling paints.

The good news for the owners of moored boats is that, while antifouling manufacturers, retailers and boat yards will be affected (some quite seriously) by the resulting new rules, there will be little effect for the owners of most moored pleasure boats.

One of those involved in the consultation process with the EPA was the managing director of New Zealand marine and commercial paint manufacturer Altex Coatings, Mike O'Sullivan.


He says New Zealand is leading the way with its reassessment of antifouling paints and their application.

"We know that many other countries are looking closely at what is happening here," he says.

He believes the outcome of the review is a good one, despite the fact it will have a significant effect on his company.

"I think we will look back on this in a year and think it was a progressive and logical step forward in today's health and safety conscious world."

To conform to the new regulations, two Altex antifoulings will require formulation changes. In the case of their Altex Yacht & Boat No 10 (a "semi-hard" antifouling), this will have to happen by 2015.

A minor change in formulation is required for its Altex Yacht & Boat No 5 antifouling, one of the country's most widely used pleasure boat antifouling paints.

O'Sullivan says this change will have no effect on the product's antifouling performance and does not need to be in place until 2023.

The company's other antifoulings: Pettit Vivid (a brightly coloured, low copper content antifouling paint able to be used on all substrates, including aluminium) and the water-based Pettit Hydrocoat, require no changes.

The new rules also require antifouling paint manufacturers and importers to give more detailed data and safety information on their labels.

Each can will also have to be accompanied by a safety data sheet, attached to the can or provided by the retailer. Both requirements take effect from January 1 next year.

Those applying antifouling (especially professionally) and those providing space for it to be applied will also be affected by the new regulations.

From July 1, 2015, anywhere antifouling is being scrubbed down, sanded or painted will need to be clearly designated as a controlled work area, within which all waste will have to be contained so it cannot enter the environment.

This waste must then be collected and disposed of in accordance with strict regulations.

All controlled work areas will also require detailed signs visible from 10m away, saying antifouling work is taking place, that everyone in the area must be wearing protective equipment, and giving the name and contact details of the person who established the controlled work area.

Those intending to spray apply antifouling will also have to install suitable screens around the boat to ensure that no antifouling paint is able to escape the controlled work area and affect any other person or boat or any waterway or part of the surrounding environment.

Everyone involved in the spray application must also wear an appropriate respiratory device.

Professional boat maintenance yards and hard stands (such as Orams Marine in Westhaven) already do all of this and so are unlikely to be too seriously affected. But some yacht club yards and smaller hardstand areas will have to work hard to ensure they meet the 2015 deadline.

Because most boat owners who apply their own antifouling do so using brushes and rollers, rather than spray painting, they will not be too badly affected by the changes.

They will, of course, no longer be able to use some of the more informal areas for applying antifouling, such as on careening grids, slipways or beaches. However, this will have little effect on most, especially in larger centres, as local and regional councils have long banned such practices anyway.

DIY-ers will also, mainly for their own health, no longer be allowed to dry sand antifouling, all sanding will need to be wet. In addition, Ron Brown, Altex's pleasure marine manager, recommends that they use a pole sander, to provide some distance between themselves and the dust and debris created by the sanding.

Brown says DIY-ers should also be aware of some key "do nots" when re-applying antifouling.

"These are not because it is against the law (although, in some cases, it is) but because it will adversely affect the performance of the paints."

He says people should not try to apply antifouling coatings between tides, should not add additives or excessively thin the antifouling, should not use too much or too little antifouling and should not relaunch their boat before the antifouling is completely dry.

"Provided one is sensible, follows the new rules and is happy to apply antifouling with brushes and rollers, the new regulations will have little effect on most boat owners," he says.

More information: EPA: (04) 916-2426 or, or Altex Coatings: (0800) 429-527, or