1. Marine fouling affects most man-made surfaces temporarily or permanently immersed in the sea, resulting in significant (or substantial) economic costs. Intense research is aimed at preventing or reducing fouling.
2. The most widespread solution to avoid fouling formation is to make surfaces unsuitable for settlers, coating them with antifouling (AF) paints containing toxic compounds. Most AF agents (e.g. tributyltin, (TBT)) have undesirable effects on non-target species, including commercially important organisms.
3. To date, the use of TBT in AF paints has been restricted (but not prohibited) in a number of countries and new biocides are in use.
4. The environmental problems posed to marine systems by AF technologies are here briefly reviewed.
5. New approaches focusing on alternatives to the use of biocidal AF paints are also considered and discussed. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.