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While antifouling does a great job of keeping our hulls clean, and even has some environmental benefits such as improving fuel efficiency and preventing the spread of invasive non-native species, it is toxic to aquatic life. Most antifouls are copper or zinc based. Some of the compounds found in these antifouls can accumulate in marine organisms, and can find their way into marine wildlife further up the food chain.


The majority of copper in antifouling enters the marine environment through leaching. However, concentrated amounts do enter the marine environment during the removal of antifouling paint, which occurs mostly by water blasting or mechanical scraping, and can form concentrated deposits on land and in the waters around our marinas, clubs, and centres.


Protect, Collect and Dispose Initiative


Building on the successful, award-winning DIY Safe Antifouling programme launched in 2017, the British Coatings Federation (BCF), The Green Blue (RYA and British Marine) and The Yacht Harbour Association (TYHA) have launched the ‘Protect, Collect & Dispose‘ initiative focused on environmental best practice when antifouling yachts and boats.


The initiative has set out environmental best practice and is intended for DIY antifouling as well as for marinas and boatyards who offer professional antifouling services.


Choosing an Antifoul

  • Ask your local chandlery and talk to the paint manufacturers before buying your paint, so you get the best paint for your boat and for the boat’s environment. Antifouling depends on your boat type and location due to varying conditions and types of species found in specific regions.
  • Consider more environmentally friendly paints (such as low volatile organic compound paints) and non-biocidal coatings such as silicone, vinyl or ultrasonic technologies.

Cleaning Antifoul Paint Surfaces


  • Use a marina or boatyard wash-down system where available, that captures and filters antifoul contaminants
  • The water from pressure-washing your boat is contaminated and best efforts should be made to collect this. Portable bunding is one approach to use.


 Removing Antifoul

  • Make sure that you only remove the fouling and paint that needs removing
  • Place a tarpaulin or groundsheet underneath the boat to protect the ground and collect debris
  • Wet abrade to minimise dust & clean the hull by wiping with a damp cloth
  • Industrial vacuum-cleaners linked to a scraper tool are useful
  • Avoid using paint strippers

Applying Antifoul

  • Use a groundsheet or tarpaulin to capture paint drips & drops
  • Use the correct application method for your paint – a roller and/or brush
  • Protect yourself – use PPE and work in a well-ventilated area



  • Follow marina, boatyard or club procedures regarding hazardous waste disposal
  • All items that have been contaminated by paint are hazardous waste; dispose of carefully and legally
  • Think about what to do with the waste paint before starting the job
  • Take any waste paint to an approved disposal location

Related Resources

Protect, Collect and Dispose

Protect, Collect and Dispose

Protect, Collect and Dispose
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