Falmouth Harbour’s prickly solution to thorny problem of marine antifoul

The masterminds behind a sea-urchin inspired, eco-friendly anti-fouling solution for boats have teamed up with Falmouth Harbour and Rustler Yachts to bring the technology to Cornwall in an industry first.

Finsulate’s revolutionary ‘bio-wrap’ is being trialled on the hulls of Falmouth fast patrol vessel Killigrew and launch Arwenack – with potential for rolling out this prickly antifoul across the bottoms of the Harbour authority’s entire fleet.

It is the latest initiative in a 150th anniversary pledge to be ever cleaner and greener which has just made Falmouth Harbour recent “Environmental Growth” winners in the Cornwall Sustainability Awards.

Finsulate was invented to tackle the significant environmental issue caused by bicodes, copper, microplastic and solvents leaching into the oceans from traditional antifouling products.

Scientist and keen scuba diver Dr Rik Breur was intrigued and inspired by the ability of sea-urchins to live in the sea yet remain free of barnacles, algae and other colonisers, while the smooth shells of crabs become encrusted. Dr Breur replicated the sea-urchin effect by creating a unique material incorporating a fine mesh of nylon ‘spines’ which is laid on a boat’s hull as a long term, low maintenance and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional antifouling products.

Finsulate UK MD Sam Mason said: “We are proud to be working with Falmouth Harbour who are very much leading the harbour Industry with sustainable practises in sailing, as evidenced by their recent Sustainability award. By committing their own vessels to be wrapped with Finsulate they again lead by example and hopefully provide an inspiration for other sailors and boat owners to make a change!”

The Finsulate UK team are working on the Falmouth Harbour vessels with technicians at Rustler Yachts – the first in the South West who are being trained and accredited to fit the innovative prickly wrap into the future.

Bamba McDonald, Rustler Commercial Manager said: “The current make up of anti-fouling products as we know it will be phased out at some point and viable eco-friendly alternatives will be introduced in to the market place. So it’s great to be working with Finsulate UK and Falmouth Harbour on this exciting and effective solution.”

The Finsulate UK trial is part of Falmouth Harbour’s pledge to be at the forefront of green innovation to protect the Harbour and its unique natural environments and habitats – a pledge which won plaudits in the Cornwall Sustainability Awards ‘Environmental Growth’ category.

Other recent initiatives include extra protection for Harbour seagrass beds, a blackwater pumping facility which removes on-board effluent from vessels’ holding tanks and a new litter-skimming Seabin which links Falmouth Haven into the global Seabin Project network with its aim to “clean up our oceans one marina at a time”.

“The Environmental Growth award is a fantastic recognition of our team’s mission to balance the commercial security of our beautiful Harbour – maintaining Falmouth as a thriving and diverse port – with the need to protect our priceless environment in many ways,” said Miles Carden, CEO. “The Finsulate project uses nature and physics, not chemistry, to address the thorny marine problem of protecting vessels without polluting the sea. It’s an exciting time and brilliant to be working with the forward-thinking teams from Finsulate UK and Rustler. The practice of how we antifoul boats simply hasn’t changed in any material way for a generation. Let’s hope this is a massive shift in how we do things.”

Finsulate’s new generation of antifouling is now being rolled out across the UK including, thanks to Falmouth Harbour and Rustler Yachts, the South West. To learn more about how the prickly wrap works and how Dr Rik Breur was inspired by the humble sea-urchin visit www.finsulate.co.uk  For more on the work of Falmouth Harbour including its wide range of environmental initiatives see www.falmouthharbour.co.uk or for Rustler Yachts visit www.rustleryachts.com

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