Antifouling coatings for ship hulls are a very important topic in coating research. They are essential with respect to fuel consumption of ships: without antifouling coating, biological species start to adhere to the ship's exterior, leading to a gradual increase in fuel consumption. To date, the working principle of most of the paint systems applied is based on slow release of toxins in time (self-polishing coatings). In this article, we discuss the environmental impact of marine antifouling coatings based on quantitative data available from literature. In addition, we critically review hydrophilic antifouling and hydrophobic foul-release coatings as toxin-free alternatives and discuss their potential for replacing self-polishing coatings. © 2012 American Coatings Association & Oil and Colour Chemists' Association.