London, 12th July. Panama today announced that it had completed the process of national ratification of the AFS Convention, ensuring that the Convention will enter into force during 2008.

London, 12th July. Panama today announced that it had completed the process of national ratification of the AFS Convention, ensuring that the Convention will enter into force during 2008.

The AFS Convention, which bans the use of TBT-based antifouling paints on ships, enters into force 12 months after 25 states representing at least 25% of global ship tonnage have ratified. Panama is the 25th state to ratify and takes the total tonnage over 25%. Panama has yet to formally notify the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) of its ratification, but hopes to do so shortly. Fourteen EU states including the UK, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy and Malta have yet to ratify.

The announcement was made at the 56th session of the IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (London, 9-13th July) and signals the end of a process that started in 1995 when ministers attending the fourth North Sea Conference in Esbjerg threatened regional action if the IMO did not act. Negotiations started the following year and the AFS Convention was adopted in 2001.

Once in force the AFS Convention will bring the rest of the world in-line with the European Union which introduced controls on TBT use on ships in 2003.

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