Japan: where Selektope antifouling coatings bloom like the Sakura 桜 in Spring

05 Jul 2024. By Jennifer Ardin

Japan is a country where the use of Selektope is blossoming.

It’s the country where the first ever antifouling coating to contain our barnacle-repelling technology was developed, and it’s also the only country where our technology is currently used in commercialized products across full range of marine coatings market segments, from large cargo ships to leisure boats. 

So, it goes without saying that Japan is in the hearts of every team member at I-Tech and if any opportunities to visit the land of the rising sun arise, we take them with both hands. Most recently, this was a combined visit to customers and to the Sea Japan exhibition in April.

It will come as no surprise that there was a high focus on technology and high-tech solutions at Sea Japan. Similar to Kor-Marine in Busan last year, there was an absence of fluffy green sustainability messaging and a prevalence of ’how to optimise ships with high-tech solutions.’

Where sustainability is highlighted it is often in combination with established initiatives for decarbonisation, such as the IMO’s Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) rules, the decarbonization challenges and the need to equip vessels with energy saving technologies.

There was also a good presence of antifouling coating companies, Chugoku Marine Paints, Nippon Paint, PPG and AkzoNobel were all exhibiting, generating a buzz around biofouling.


Meetings with our customers in and around the exhibition confirmed that there is sustained, strong interest in Selektope in the region. We were lucky enough to once again visit Chugoku Marine Paints’ R&D centre in Hiroshima where the first Selektope-containing antifouling product was developed and it was confirmed that Selektope is the big seller for them in Japan as high-performance paints are becoming more popular.

Today, Chugoku Marine Paints has a total of twenty-one registered antifouling coating products with Selektope, demonstrating the Japanese paint manufacturer’s growing commitment to the technology. The products cover a wide portfolio of use areas, from leisure boats and yachts in the domestic Japanese market to the largest globally trading ocean going vessels.


In addition to Chugoku Marine Paint’s products that contain Selektope, there are other Selektope-containing antifouling coatings on the market in Japan. Kobe Paint has several products registered with Selektope, and the growing portfolio of Selektope-containing coatings from Kansai Paint Marine utilise the technology for coatings which are used both for dry-docking and new buildings.

From a sales point of view, sales of Selektope to Japan have grown exponentially. We saw a 216% growth in kilograms sold to Japan in 2023 compared to 2021 where we estimate that around half of Selektope sales to Japan are for newbuild vessels. and the other half is used for dry-docking. About 1,500 ships visited a repair yard in Japan in 2023 and 278 ships were built.

With the threat of barnacle fouling intensifying as water temperatures increase, the need for antifouling coatings containing Selektope for the global, and Japanese market will only strengthen in coming years for both newbuildings and existing vessels.

As the first line of defence against biofouling for most marine vessels, biocidal antifouling coatings play an integral role in both the decarbonisation challenge of the global shipping industry and also in mitigating biosafety risk from commercial and recreational vessels.

As an integral part of the group of high-tech solutions available that can be used to decarbonise all vessel types, biocidal antifouling coatings that contain Selektope are needed now, more than ever and this is evidenced in Japan, where sales of Selektope-containing paints are growing as fast as barnacles grow on vessels in Tokyo Bay.

Jennifer Ardin
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