Washington Copper Bottom Paint Law

How Washington's New Copper-Free Antifouling Law Affects Your Boat

In 2011, Washington State adopted a new law that will gradually phase out the use of antifouling paints containing cuprous oxide (aka copper) on “recreational water vessels.” Here are a few common questions and answers regarding the key parts of this new law:

Bottom PaintWhat types of boats are subject to the new law?

Only “recreational water vessels” are affected. Your boat is a recreational water vessel if (1) it is no more than 65FT in length and (2) it is manufactured or used primarily for pleasure or is leased, rented or chartered for pleasure use.

What types of boats are not subject to the new law?

Any vessel over 65FT and/or any vessel that is subject to USCG inspection and either is engaged in commercial use or carries paying passengers.

How do I comply with the new law?

The law states that no recreational water vessel manufactured on or after January 1, 2018 with antifouling paint containing copper may be sold in the State of Washington. It also says that beginning January 1, 2020, it will be illegal to sell or apply antifouling paint containing more than 0.5% copper to any recreational water vessel. Current copper levels in bottom paint usually range from 25 - 75%. As long as you don't purchase a new boat with copper paint after 2018 or use copper paint after 2020, you will be in compliance.

If I have copper antifouling paint that was applied to my boat before January 1, 2020, will I be in violation of the new law after that date if my boat still has copper antifouling paint?

No, but when it is time to replace your bottom paint, you will need to replace it with a non-copper paint.

What is the penalty for violating the law?

Anyone found in violation could face a fine of up to $10,000 per day.

What can I do?

Never fear – Fisheries Supply already offers a large selection of great copper-free alternatives to meet your antifouling needs from our most popular bottom paint manufacturers, including Seahawk, Interlux, Pettit and ePaint!

Update for 2019:

Over the course of 2018 it was determined that some of the alternatives to copper free paints were potentially worse for the environment. Due to this development, the governor of Washington signed a bill that delayes all phases of the new ban until January 1, 2021. Stay tuned for developements - but for now, you are still legally able to use copper based paints.