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New Zealand: New Biofouling Requirements for 2018

By MPI Biosecurity and Environment Group — last modified Dec 07, 2017 08:24 AM
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will be implementing a new standard for biofouling on vessels visiting New Zealand, starting in May 2018.

Published: 2017-12-07 00:00:00
Countries: New Zealand

New Zealand: New Biofouling Requirements for 2018

A heavily fouled yacht covered in the non-native seaweed Undaria pinnatifida in Wellington, New Zealand. Marine pests such as Undaria can outcompete native species and are successful biofouling organisms.

The Craft Risk Management Standard (CRMS) for Biofouling on Vessels Arriving to New Zealand will apply to all vessels arriving in New Zealand from abroad, and stipulates that all vessels must arrive in New Zealand with a “clean hull”.

Why manage biofouling?

Biofouling is the growth of marine plants and animals on the wetted surfaces of a vessel’s hull. Biofouling is a natural process, and can start within hours of a vessel entering the water or being cleaned. However, biofouling presents a biosecurity risk, as fouled vessels can carry marine pests and diseases from one place to another. Fouled vessels entering New Zealand have the potential to introduce these pests to coastal areas, and once established, pests can outcompete native organisms, inhibit important functions of native ecosystems, and introduce competition and diseases to the aquaculture and fishing industries. In addition, pests can form unsightly aggregations in popular coastal areas such as beaches and dive sites, and are difficult to eradicate once established.

Yacht owners who have visited Auckland and parts of Northland, New Zealand, will have likely seen marine pests such as the Mediterranean fanworm (Sabella spallanzanii) and Japanese kelp (Undaria pinnatifida; seen here on a fouled yacht in Wellington), which have already established in many ports around the country, and are successful biofouling species. Several other marine pests and diseases have already established in New Zealand; many of these were likely introduced via biofouling, and can also be spread throughout the country on dirty hulls.

In an effort to reduce the potential for the introduction of harmful marine pests to New Zealand, MPI will soon require vessel owners to manage biofouling to specific thresholds that reduce the risk of pests arriving and establishing. As yacht owners, you can help keep New Zealand’s marine ecosystems clean and healthy by arriving in New Zealand with a “clean hull”.

What is a “clean hull”?

The definition of a “clean hull” under the CRMS will depend on the arriving vessel’s itinerary, which will fall into one of two categories:

  • Short-stay vessels are those vessels intending to stay in New Zealand for 20 days or less, and to only visit ports designated as Places of First Arrival. These vessels are allowed a slime layer and gooseneck barnacles, plus small amounts of other fouling organisms on hull (<1% coverage) and niche areas (<5% coverage).
  • Long-stay vessels are those vessels intending to stay in New Zealand for 21 days or more, and/or to visit ports not designated as Places of First Arrival. These vessels are only allowed a slime layer and gooseneck barnacles; no other fouling will be allowed on hull or niche areas.

New Zealand: New Biofouling Requirements for 2018

This diagram illustrates the allowable biofouling thresholds for different  vessel itineraries under the CRMS.

The majority of yachts visiting New Zealand will fall under the “long-stay” category, meaning that only a slime layer and gooseneck barnacles will be allowed as fouling. In general, most yacht owners arriving in New Zealand are conscientious about hull maintenance, and are already managing biofouling to this level of cleanliness in an effort to decrease transit time across the Pacific. Therefore, compliance with the CRMS should not require much above and beyond what most responsible yacht owners already do, aside from some extra record-keeping.

How to Comply

The recommended means of compliance for long-stay vessels such as yachts is to clean the hull and niche areas less than 30 days prior to arrival in New Zealand. Niche areas are parts of the hull where biofouling tends to accumulate, such as the keel, rudder, and propeller, and as such are of particular importance when cleaning. Examples of niche areas commonly found on yachts are shown in the figure below. Again, most yacht owners tend to clean their hull prior to departure for New Zealand anyway; however, after May 2018, biosecurity inspectors will ask to see proof of this cleaning in order to assess compliance.

Providing proof is as easy, and includes such simple actions as recording all biofouling maintenance in your log book, taking date-stamped photos of the cleaning, and/or retaining receipts or reports from any commercially undertaken biofouling maintenance. Inspectors may also ask to see that your antifouling paint is still effective, so retaining receipts and information from haul outs and re-painting (i.e. the type of paint used and the date applied) will help verify compliance.

New Zealand: New Biofouling Requirements for 2018

When cleaning your boat, be sure to pay close attention to niche areas, as biofouling tends to accumulate in these areas. Biosecurity inspectors may ask to see proof that the niche areas have been cleaned when you arrive in New Zealand.

If cleaning prior to arrival is not possible, there are other ways to meet the CRMS. If you are arriving for refit or haul-out, your vessel will be allowed to arrive with fouling above the appropriate threshold only if the booking takes place within 24 hours of arrival to New Zealand, and is with an MPI approved facility. Again, evidence of your booking must be provided to biosecurity inspectors upon arrival to prove compliance.

A third method of compliance is to maintain your hull through “best-practice biofouling maintenance” as outlined by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). This method is tailored more towards large vessels such as superyachts and commercial shipping vessels, and is not recommended for smaller yachts as it requires a high level of record-keeping, and is designed to manage biofouling to the short-stay threshold. Therefore, yachts arriving as long-stay vessels who want to comply using this method will need more evidence to present to inspectors, and may require a more thorough inspection of the hull upon arrival. More information about best practice maintenance can be found at the MPI website.

What will happen if my vessel is non-compliant?

Vessels that enter New Zealand without a clean hull or a haul-out booking within 24 hours of arrival will be directed to manage the biofouling risk at their own cost. Currently, in-water cleaning is not an MPI-approved method of biofouling management, as this can release fouling organisms into the environment, allowing them the chance to establish and become marine pests. Therefore, the only option non-compliant yachts will have to manage biofouling will be haul-out and cleaning at an MPI approved facility.

MPI is here to help

MPI understands that haul out can be a costly option, and as such wants to help assist yacht owners to prepare for the new standard. If you have any questions regarding the new rules or how to comply, feel free to email standards@mpi.govt.nz to reach MPI’s biofouling advisers. More information on the CRMS can be found at the MPI website, which includes specific guidance for yachts and recreational vessels.

Once your boat has been cleared for biofouling upon arrival, it is important to continue to maintain your hull as you cruise around New Zealand in order to reduce the chance of spreading established marine pests around the country. Check with the local Regional Council of your intended destination for local biofouling rules before leaving for a new port.

Thank you for doing your part to keep New Zealand’s waters clean and free of harmful marine pests.

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