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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

2 May 2001


Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill announced today that BHP will be the first ship operator in Australia to join the National Anti-fouling Paint Patch Trials.

"BHP's ship, the Iron Monarch, will become the first vessel to have multiple test patches of new tin-free anti-fouling paints applied to its hull," Senator Hill said.

The trials are part of a major cooperative project between the Federal Government, the maritime, paint and coatings industries, the Australian Paint Manufacturers Federation, the Defence Science and Technology Organisation, and the Australian Shipowners Association, to test less toxic alternatives to traditional anti-fouling paints.

Senator Hill said more than $300,000 has been funded for these trials through the Federal Government's $1.5 billion Natural Heritage Trust.

"Anti-fouling paints are used on ships' hulls to deter the build up of organisms such as molluscs and algae. They are of critical importance in impeding the spread of marine pests, parasites and diseases, and contribute to fuel consumption efficiencies," Senator Hill said.

"Unfortunately, anti-fouling paints themselves can be harmful to the marine environment and even toxic to some marine species as they contain organotin-based biocides such as tributyltin (TBT).

"Technological developments over the past decade are making effective alternatives to TBT based paint available.

"Through the Anti-fouling Trials, a wide range of TBT-free anti-fouling paints will be tested under normal commercial conditions both to gain industry confidence and to meet registration requirements.

"The trial will include up to 24 vessels operating in Australian harbours and in offshore waters and encompass both tropical and temperate operational zones. It will run for two years with an option to be extended to five years."

The Iron Monarch has been in service with BHP since 1973 and carries steel from the company's manufacturing plant in Port Kembla to the Port of Hastings.

"During the course of the trial, the vessel is expected to make more than 190 visits to the Port of Hastings. The Port has remained relatively free of introduced marine pests in the past and it is a high priority to all stakeholders that it continues to remain in this condition," Senator Hill said.

"The significant level of support shown by both BHP and Forgacs, Cairncross Dry-dock represents an important contribution to the Trials.

"I congratulate BHP's commitment to protect Australia's marine environment and look forward to other Australian shipping companies joining the Anti-fouling Trials. The Federal Government is proud to have initiated the Anti-fouling Trials through Australia's Oceans Policy with funding from the Natural Heritage Trust."

Under Australia's Oceans Policy the Federal Government is committed to ban the use of TBT on ships that are repainted in Australian docks by 1 January 2006. However, it could be as early as 2003, if determined by the International Maritime Organisation.

2 May 2001

Media Contact:
Belinda Huppatz Senator Hill's office 08 8237 7920 or 0419 258 364

Note to Journalists:
BHP's Transport and Logistics ship the Iron Monarch will be undocked at Forgacs, Cairncross Dry-dock in Brisbane between 8.30 and 9am on May 6 2001.

If promotional photos are required of either the application of the anti-fouling paints or the undocking, please contact Ian Corser at Cairncross Dry-dock on 0411 076 560 for permission prior to arriving. At arrival, please then make contact with Graham Stacey.

Commonwealth of Australia