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It’s that time of year again, or at least in the Northern Hemisphere it is.
Walk around any marina, and you’ll be vividly reminded by the overpowering smell of solvents wafting on the breeze, that dozens of boat owners are now busy with the job we all hate, but often have to do…. The dreaded antifouling application!
In this month’s issue of Practical Boat Owner magazine published in the UK, there is an article by Huw Williams entitled ‘Fouling Away’, which starts with this introduction: “Scraping, sanding and pressure washing boat hulls creates toxic effluent that is being dumped, untreated, into the sea every day of the year!”
The writer argues that for too long our industry has overlooked the harmful effects of antifouling on our environment, and points out that many marinas, yards and boat owners can do much better with their efforts to contain and dispose of toxic waste.
Last year we published some information via METSTRADE about the future prospects for changes in antifouling formulations. This pointed out that restrictive regulations on the use of biocides in paints, could well make antifoulings less effective. This in turn, may result in increased carbon dioxide emissions, and proliferation of invasive species being transported between regions on fouled hulls.
So, all things considered, it’s clear that the future of antifouling has to be less toxic, and more effective. Also very clearly, no boat owner can be happy about poisoning the oceans!
At this year’s HISWA Boat show held in Amsterdam last month, an independent jury awarded the Product of the Year accolade to Finsulate, another innovative non-toxic solution designed to prevent bio fouling on boat hulls.
The product was invented by Dutchman Rik Breur, who was studying settlement mechanisms of marine species such as mussels and barnacles, as part of his PhD thesis at Delft University of Technology in Holland, when he came across the idea.
Rik came to realise that nature often provides us with the best solutions to our everyday problems, by observing the way that living organisms protect themselves from attack. He then started development and trials with a unique self-adhesive film for application to boat hulls, which is now fully proven in real life situations and patented. The Finsulate film is covered in fine nylon hairs, which keep the fouling at bay by not providing a surface that it can stick to, and it remains effective for over five years. Quite simply, this is a defence mechanism which functions in much the same way as the spines on a sea urchin, and also works very well on several other aquatic mammals.