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EPA seeks public input into review of marine paints

Media release

24 January 2013

EPA seeks public input into review of marine paints

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is asking the public to have its say in a review of a group of paints used to protect boats from the unwanted build-up of aquatic plants and animals.

The EPA is reviewing antifouling paints following the release of significant new information by other international regulators about the harmful effects they have on both aquatic and human health.

Acting Applications and Assessment Manager, Johanne Spring, says the EPA’s preliminary research shows that the risks posed by some of these paints may be managed by stricter controls being placed on their use.

“However, our research also shows that the risks to human and environmental health from some of these paints may be so significant that they should no longer be permitted for use in New Zealand.”

Antifouling paints are applied to the surfaces of boats, nets and other submerged surfaces and slowly release chemicals into the water to prevent the build-up of aquatic pests, such as plants and algae.

Ms Spring says that public submissions are a crucial part of the reassessment process.

“Antifouling paints provide a number of benefits to New Zealand’s marine industry and biosecurity. But they can also have negative effects on the health of our marine life and of the people that use them.

“To make sure that the outcome of this reassessment is one that is best for New Zealand, we are encouraging the public to have their say on the future use of antifouling paints,” she says.

Ms Spring says that the EPA carried out a comprehensive preliminary assessment and consulted with representatives from the paint manufacturing industry, regional councils and Māori, as well as marine operators and other users across New Zealand.

“However, information from the public about the everyday use of antifouling paints, including their benefits, will be vital in helping the decision makers reach the best conclusion,” says Ms Spring.

The EPA will also be receiving advice on the suitability of the current hazard classifications of the antifouling paints being reassessed. This advice, which may affect the outcome of the EPA’s reassessment, is due to be completed and made publicly available by the end of February 2013.

The public have until Thursday 7 March 2013 to make a submission on the reassessment. A public hearing will be in mid- April, after which an expert decision-making committee will consider the application, public submissions and any other information it receives as part of the reassessment process.

The Committee’s final decision on the reassessment is expected to be released in May 2013.

[Ends]

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