VHF Channel 66
call sign, Lymington Harbour (office hours)

Antifouling and the Marine Environment


Before using Lymington Harbour Commissioners scrubbing grid piles or the Town Quay slipway to wash down your hull or to remove and apply anti-foul paint please read this guidance note which provides advice to minimise the risk of pollution.

Anti-foul works by providing a protective layer on the hull of vessels which is toxic and prevents a build up of marine organisms below the water line. It acts by slowly leaching biocide into the area immediately adjacent to the hull, and requires a certain amount of movement through the water to be most effective.

There are many well known reports which highlight the toxic effects on non-target species by older tributyltin (TBT) paints, which are now banned on craft below 25m in length, but still in use on larger craft (e.g. commercial vessels). Similar evidence suggests that this is also true of modern paints, although the effects on non-target species is not so well understood.

The legislation which governs the control of pollution within a river such as the Lymington is the Water Resources Act 1991, the most pertinent section is shown below.


Water Resources Act 1991 Chapter II Section 85

(1) A person contravenes this section if he causes or knowingly permits any poisonous, noxious or pollution matter or any solid waste matter to enter any controlled waters.

Whilst this legislation may seem quite onerous a few simple precautions can easily ensure that someone does not fall foul of it.

  • The key is to prevent anti-fouling from unnecessarily entering the water. Skirt the hull when scrubbing down or painting the hull and use a tarpaulin to catch the flakes and drips. Don't leave a coloured patch under your boat!
  • If washing off on a slipway, use a device such as a loop of rope to trap any paint particulates and then sweep up and dispose as hazardous waste.
  • Use of a pressure washers is not permitted on the scrubbing grids. When scrubbing use the minimum amount of pressure required to remove the growth. By scrubbing too hard you will also be removing the protection of the anti-foul by removing the paint itself. If run off is heavily coloured you are using too much force.
  • Select the right type of antifouling for your craft and boat usage - take advice from your chandlery. Use water-based paints where possible or low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) paints. Always apply new paint according to the manufacturer's instructions. 
  • Dispose of any scrapings, paint tins, brushes and other materials in an appropriate way. Do not put them into rubbish bins unless they are specifically designated for that purpose.



What alternatives are there? 

There are several choices, but their suitability varies according to boat type and the amount of use they get.

  • Look into alternative hull paints, such as hard vinyl, silicone or teflon, which are suitable for in-water hull cleaning systems.
  • Consider using a closed loop wash down system ashore such as those provided by the two local marinas.

Further information on how boat users can protect the marine environment can be found at The Green Blue.