Saturday, August 16, 2008

Anti fouling paint must be banned in Protected Marine Park

by Charles Roring
Dry season has been the most favorite time for most scuba divers to explore the beauty of underwater world. For dive operators, this is considered the harvest time. More tourists mean more money coming in. To attract scuba divers from around the world, dive centers promote their service through internet, travel agencies, and special diving magazines. The ads they publish usually feature comfortable facilities, fast or beautiful boats and the last but not the least, cutting edge diving equipment.
When more scuba divers enter the marine park, more boats will be needed. Diving centers do not want to create bad impression in front of their customers by showing boats whose bottoms are full with barnacles, algae, or weeds and various kinds of mussels.
The easiest way to get rid all of this marine organisms is by applying anti fouling paints on the bottom of the boats. The commercial anti fouling paints available in the market consist of two types:
  • Ablative anti fouling paint. It is a soft bottom paint that wears when the boat moves in the water. It contains chemical substances which acts as biocide that kills the barnacles, weeds, and even small fish adjacent to it.
  • Hard finish antifouling paint. This kind of paint is suitable for fast speed boat. The paint leach out biocide as it moves in the water.
Boats painted with antifouling chemicals that operate in a shallow water will release their harmful paints to coral reefs and fish that live below. It is also a poison for scua divers and their guides who swim near the boat. Therefore, authorities that manage the marine park should release special regulation that prohibit excessive use of antifouling paints to the scuba diving operators or boat owners.
As the solution, the boats, when they are not in use, can be taken out of water or cleaned manually. Scrubing the bottom of the boat regularly will also result in smooth bottom surface that make the boat move faster.
In addition to banning the use of anti fouling paints, boat owners must limit their speed in diving sites to prevent damaging the coral reefs or hitting the divers. By doing to, scuba divers can enjoy their diving in a safe environment.