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The 100% Canadian Anti-Fouling Solution

When it comes to anti-fouling solutions, there is no more Canadian option than EMCS said Trevor Tasker, EMCS

Biofouling and corrosion are major challenges faced by the shipping industry, leisure craft, and offshore installations, causing widespread damage, the shutdown of critical systems, vessel drag, decreased fuel efficiency, higher emissions, and major maintenance costs.

The MARELCOsuite of anti-fouling and anti-corrosion systems was invented, and is manufactured by Canadian owned and operated cleantech innovators EMCS Industries Ltd. The MARELCO suite reduces maintenance by removing marine fouling to achieve significant cost-savings and improves the operational and environmental performance of marine assets.

EMCS founders invented the world’s first marine growth protection system and today the company continues to pioneer cleantech solutions that reduce costs, improve performance and protect the marine environment as a trusted manufacturer and service provider to over 147 vessels worldwide.

EMCS is the sole source supplier of the MARELCO anti-fouling solution to theCanadian Coast Guard. The company’s world class customers include BC Ferries, the German Navy, and numerous ships owned by many Carnival Corporation brands, Windstar Cruise Lines, Norwegian Cruise Line and others. As a Canadian owned company, EMCS is eager to introduce these anti-fouling solutions to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and the ships being built under Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy.





Seawater plays a crucial role in keeping ships – especially larger ships – operating properly. “It is used to cool the engines, run the HVAC systems, fire suppression and other internal seawater piping applications,” said Trevor Tasker, EMCS’ President, and CEO. “Ships also use seawater to scrub emissions coming out of the smokestacks. This is why you need an anti-fouling system in the sea chest. If not, then marine life and corrosion will soon plug up the entire system because its progression is fast and prolific.”

MARELCO MGPS fights bio-fouling using an electrolytic process. This process employs a set of replaceable copper, aluminum, or iron anodes (depending on the ship’s specific piping composition) immersed into the sea chest. Electricity is passed through the anodes sitting in the seawater. The anodes then erode on a molecular level to release copper ions, aluminum hydroxides, or ferrous ions (depending on the anodes installed) to inhibit organic life growth and provide protection from internal corrosion.

The MGPS system is effective, reliable, and easy to maintain. “Although the anodes do erode over time, our design means that they only have to be replaced every three to five years,” said Tasker. “That’s usually done when the ship is in drydock for regular maintenance, which means our system provides continuous protection without generating any additional downtime.”




EMCS Industries Ltd was originally established in 1955 in Victoria, BC, under the name Electrolytic Marine Corrosion Services by Lauder Ramsay (Director) and Frank Lewis Chappell (Technical Director) after the invention of the first Marine Growth Protection System (MGPS) in 1950.

The original founders and inventors of these anti-fouling solutions truly grasped the elemental nature of bio-fouling and were able to solve the many problems it causes. For instance, without a bio-fouling solution, contaminated sea chests can be responsible for transferring invasive marine species from one part of the world to another.

As is the case with most innovations, it wasn’t easy to convince the conservative shipping world to accept the modern notion of electrolytic-driven anti-fouling. In fact, the first ‘Cathelco System’ (as it was known at the time) installed on the Canadian Pacific Coast Services’ S.S. Princess Kathleen was sold on a one year “No cure, no pay!” contract in 1950 to prove the concept. The company has come a long way since then. In 1983 the original founders parted company and the system name was changed to MARELCO™ and is well known and respected in the marine industry.




According to Trevor Tasker “The Canadian government is hopefully looking for as much Canadian content as possible for their projects,” he told CDR. “Well, when it comes to anti-fouling solutions, there is no more Canadian option than EMCS and the MARELCO™ product suite. We are 100% Canadian-owned. The engineers that invented the product were all Canadian citizens, as are our employees and suppliers. All of our manufacturing and R&D is done in Canada: We couldn’t be more Canadian if we tried!”

Nevertheless, “we’re not getting defense contracts from the Canadian federal government because our company and brand names aren’t familiar to them,” said Tasker. “We’re trying to change this by raising public awareness about who we are and what we have to offer. We have also developed new control panels that connect easily to modern ship monitoring systems and have updated all of our certifications so that nothing is standing in our way.”

Logically speaking, the federal government should be considering MARELCO anti-fouling solutions for the vessels being constructed under NSS. Since the system can also be retrofitted into existing ships, the MARELCO could be useful in the current RCN fleet as well. As a 100% Canadian company, EMCS does hit all the right marks when it comes to boosting Canada’s economy and providing Canadian jobs. 

If the current COVID-19 crisis has proven anything, sourcing materials from outside Canada can be a real problem whenever the time is of the essence. “Even in the best of situations, it takes longer to receive products that are built overseas than it does to receive products that are built here at home,” said Tasker. “There’s also the cost of freight/shipping, and the exchange rate you have to pay when you buy items in foreign currency rather than Canadian dollars.”

A further reason for the Canadian government to buy Canadian goods is after-sales support. “We can provide locally-based support in a matter of hours or days rather than weeks or months,” he said. “This is something that a company based outside Canada can’t do nearly as easily.”



James Careless is CDR’s Ottawa Bureau Chief

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