Marine Pollution: International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-Fouling Systems on Ships, 2001


Pollution Prevention Act
Land-Based Sources of Marine Pollution Global Programme of Action Cartagena 
Ocean Dumping


 The International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-Fouling Systems on Ships (AFS Convention) entered into force on September 17, 2008. Adopted under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on October 5, 2001, the United States signed the AFS Convention on December 12, 2002, and ratified it on August 21, 2012. The Convention, which NOAA played a key role in negotiating and developing, bans the application or use of tributyltin (an anti-fouling agent used on the hulls of ships to prevent the growth of marine organisms), calls for its removal from existing anti-fouling systems by January 1, 2008, and establishes a detailed and science-based mechanism to consider future restrictions of harmful substances in anti-fouling systems. While necessary to increase vessel fuel efficiency and minimize the transport of hull-borne species, such systems can also have an adverse impact on the marine environment. The U.S. implements the AFS Convention through 33 U.S.C. §§ 3801-3857. As of October 31, 2012, 63 countries representing 81.06 percent of the world’s merchant shipping tonnage have ratified the Convention.

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Last updated February 12, 2018