Copper-Based Boat Paint Ban Passes State Senate

A bill that would ban the use of copper-based antifouling paints on recreational vessels has passed the California Senate.

The California State Senate has passed a bill that would ban the use of copper-based antifouling paints on recreational vessels, if it becomes law. 

Senate Bill 623 would prohibit boat manufacturers from selling recreational vessels with copper-based bottom paint after 2014 and would prohibit recreational boat owners from using or applying copper-based paint after 2018. Military and commercial vessels would be exempt, as would all boats carrying paid passengers.

The delay before the bill takes effect is intended to give paint manufacturers plenty of time to create nontoxic alternative coatings — and for recreational boaters to replace copper-based paint with ones that are safer to the environment.  Scientific research has identified copper as a significant water pollutant and a threat to aquatic life.

Several boating organizations said they are concerned about the effect Sen. Kehoe’s (D – San Diego)  bill would have on recreational boating, if it becomes law. Recreational Boaters of California is opposed to SB 623 unless the bill is revised to ensure that no deadline to stop copper-based paint use takes effect until there are alternative paints that are “effective, available and affordable.” It issued a “Call to Arms” in April urging boaters to express their opposition to the bill to their elected representatives in Sacramento. The boater advocacy group Boat Owners Association of the United States (BoatU.S.) issued a statement adding that, currently, few effective and cost-conscious alternatives exist to keep hulls clean. BoatU.S. said it was concerned that recreational boaters are being “unfairly and unwisely singled out.” Without much larger commercial and military vessels using copper-free paints, there may not be a large enough market to stimulate research and development of new alternative coatings.

June, 2011 edition – The Log