Fact Sheet - Anti-fouling paint

There are different requirements to the contents of anti-fouling paint depending on the ship on which the paint is to be used

The regulations in the form of a Statutory Order cover anti-fouling paint containing one or more active substances – so-called biocides – which chemically or microbiologically combat deposits and growth of bacteria, plants or animals on ships, aquaculture equipment or other structures used in water.

The special Danish rules only cover anti-fouling paint for ships, mainly pleasure craft.

Ban on anti-fouling paint containing biocides for different uses

It is not permitted to import, sell or use anti-fouling paint

  • containing irgarol (cybutryne, CAS-No. 28159-98-0), on ships shorter than 25 metres;
  • on pleasure boats which sail mainly in fresh water; or
  • on pleasure boats of less than 200 kilos and which sail mainly in salt water (The ban does not cover wooden boats and pleasure boats that have permanent mooring space in harbours designated as A and B harbours by the insurance sector harbour survey); and
  • on pleasure boats of 200 kilos and more and which sail mainly in salt water and on which the release of copper to the aquatic environment exceeds 200 µg Cu/cm2 after the first 14 days and 350 µg Cu/cm2 after the first 30 days (calculated from the time of application).

With regard to pleasure boats, after 1 January 2018, it will be illegal to import, sell or use anti-fouling paint containing biocides which release substances that are classified as R53: May cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment. According to Annex VII of the CLP Regulation the phrase R53 alone or in combination includes the following hazard statements from CLP:

H400: Very toxic to aquatic life

H410: Very toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects

H411: Toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects

H412: Harmful to aquatic life with long lasting effects

H413: May cause long lasting harmful effects to aquatic life

An overall authorisation scheme concerning all biocidal anti-fouling paints for all ships, boats and equipment is on its way in the EU through the Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR), Product Type (PT) 21.

At the moment, a transitional scheme is in force. According to the transitional scheme, anti-fouling paint which is not mentioned above may only be imported, sold or used if the active substances in the particular anti-fouling paint is under evaluation in the EU according to the BPR. After the evaluation and approval of an active substance in the EU, anti-fouling paints with that active substance must be authorised by the Danish EPA in order to be imported, sold or used in Denmark.

Requirements to labelling of anti-fouling paint containing biocides

Upon sale, anti-fouling paint containing biocides must be labelled with the following text:

“Må ikke anvendes til fritidsbåde, der overvejende anvendes i ferske vande. Må ikke anvendes til fritidsbåde under 200 kg, der overvejende anvendes i salte vande.  Dette forbud gælder ikke for træbåde, der anvendes i saltvand, og for fritidsbåde som har fast vandplads i havne, som i forsikringsbranchens havneoversigt er klassificerede som A- eller B-havne.” (“Must not be used on pleasure boats that sail mainly in fresh water. Must not be used on pleasure boats of less than 200 kg that sail mainly in salt water. The ban does not cover wooden boats used in salt water and pleasure boats used in salt water that have permanent mooring space in harbours designated as A and B harbours by the insurance-sector harbour survey.”)

The text must be easy to read and indelible.


The Danish Environmental Protection Agency may permit the use of anti-fouling paint which releases more copper than mentioned above on completely new pleasure boats for export; or for pleasure boats prior to long-distance sailing outside the Baltic Sea Area (north and west of a line through the Skaw at 57o 44,8’ N) when the ship does not call into a Danish port for at least three months.

Applications for dispensation must be submitted to the Danish Environmental Protection Agency using a form handed out by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency.

The purpose of the regulations is to protect humans and the environment

The regulations are designed to prevent injury to humans and damage to the environment resulting from contact with biocidal anti-fouling paint.

The biocide irgarol can cause hypersensitivity on contact with the skin. It is very toxic for animals and plants in the aquatic environment.

Copper is very toxic for most aquatic organisms. It is not degradable and is accumulated, among others, in harbour sediments. Copper may also bioaccumulate (accumulate in living organisms).

Importers, retailers and users are responsible

Anyone who imports, sells or uses anti-fouling paint containing biocides is responsible for ensuring compliance with the regulations.

The Chemical Inspection Service of the Danish EPA monitors compliance with the regulations and will ensure that illegal situations are brought into compliance. This may involve withdrawing the product form the Danish market, or rendering the product legal by other means.

The person responsible may be penalised for not complying with the regulations and will risk either a fine or up to two years' imprisonment.

Further reading

For more information, see Statutory Order No. 1429 of 16 December 2014 restricting the import, sale and use of biocidal anti-fouling paint. The Order is available in Danish only at the official Danish legislation homepage Retsinformation.

Please note that organic tin compounds are also regulated by REACH, Annex XVII No. 20 (Regulation EU, No. 1907/2006).