Marine paints and coatings are applied to commercial and military ships (for both salt and fresh water), fixed and floating marine structures such as offshore oil rigs, and recreational boats and yachts. Included are passenger ships, freighters, tankers, container ships, fishing boats and ferries, as well as oil rigs, inland waterway ships, barges and tow boats.
Marine coatings are designed with particular functionality properties to best protect and preserve the surfaces to which they are applied. Specific areas of marine vessels and yachts require specially formulated marine coatings for use above and below the waterline. For instance, antifouling coatings — which do exactly that: protect surfaces from fouling — are highly engineered and subject to intense regulation.
The most significant development to emerge in Marine Coatings segment over the last several years was the ban on organo tin tributyltin (TBT) compounds, which have served as a fundamental active ingredient in antifouling coatings for the last 40 years. Based on a resolution from the International Maritime Organization, production and sale of coatings incorporating these compounds was banned in January 2003; their presence on hulls was banned effective January 2008.
While copper-based coatings offered a good replacement for TBT-based marine coatings, this industry segment has shifted reformulation away from copper-based systems over concerns of buildup of dissolved metals in bays and basins. In fact, this shift has led to a search for innovative solutions, such as fouling protection coatings that do not contain any biocide.
Some important factors to the health and success of the marine coatings market include oil prices, which have a major impact on demand for marine coatings used on offshore facilities and tankers. Other major indicators include defense spending, and levels of waterborne commerce and shipbuilding. On the recreational side, boat sales and the number of boats in use are primary drivers.
ACA's Marine Coatings Committee plans, organizes and produces the International Marine and Offshore Coatings Conference and identifies and deals with problems specific to marine and offshore coatings manufacturers. The committee establishes and maintains communications with all segments of the marine industry, including shipbuilders, ship operators, naval architects and government agencies. It serves as the ACA’s primary forum for gathering and exchanging information on the broad range of regulatory, commercial, technological, legal, and public policy issues affecting the manufacture, sale, distribution and use of marine coatings products.
The ACA Antifouling Coatings Work Group is a subcommittee formed based on the efforts of the Marine Coatings Committee in the antifouling coatings arena. It focuses on U.S. antifouling coatings issues and works primarily through coatings and raw material supplier ACA member company representatives. It also works closely with the International Paint and Printing Ink Council’s Antifouling Coatings Work Group, sharing many members.