Anti-fouling boat paints are widely known as a significant source of copper. These paints are designed to leach copper into the water in order to reduce fouling on boat bottoms with barnacles and algae.
Unfortunately, copper and other metals are toxic to fish and other aquatic species. Numerous studies have confirmed boat bottom paint is harmful to the environment, and local studies identify boat bottom paint as the primary source of copper in Newport Bay.
Copper leaching needs to be reduced now to protect marine life in the bay, starting with our Upper Newport Bay Marine Protected Area.
What is going on?
For three years, Coastkeeper ran the Newport Bay Copper Reduction Project in partnership with the City. The project promoted voluntary conversion of boats from copper to non-biocide bottom paints.
This voluntary program was unsuccessful, with only 10 boats converted. Since then, the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board released a Draft Newport Bay Copper TMDL in 2016 and is in the process of completing a final version for adoption in 2018.
Coastkeeper continues to work with boaters, the City of Newport Beach and the Regional Water Board on ways to reduce copper in Newport Bay.