New Zealand, Northland: Tightening up of restrictions for new arrivals following the discovery of a highly invasive marine pest

If anyone is cruising in the Pacific and planning to spend the cyclone season in NZ, be aware that authorities are trying to control Mediterranean Fanworm in Northland. All marinas from Marsden Cove to Whangaroa are now insisting that arriving boats either prove they had had their hulls inspected in the previous month or had anti-foul applied within six months.

Published 8 years ago, updated 4 years ago

See full report by NZ Herald.

The discovery of a highly invasive marine pest on a boat moored in a pristine Northland harbour is a wake-up call for the region, a biosecurity expert says.

The discovery of up to 300 Mediterranean fanworms on a fishing boat hull in Whangaroa Harbour last month has already prompted a tightening up of marina rules around the region.

A routine inspection of Whangaroa Harbour on August 19 found the fishing vessel Catherine II, tied up at Clansman Wharf, was infested with fanworms. The creature is a serious threat to native species and could wipe out Whangaroa’s oyster industry.

Auckland is so badly infested the Ministry of Primary Industries and local authorities have given up trying to eradicate it. Marsden Cove Marina in Whangarei Harbour is locked in a costly battle with the pest, but the Far North had previously been fanworm-free.

Divers removed the fanworms from the hull of Catherine II on August 21 and the boat was hauled out for cleaning at Opua on Monday.

The boat had been anti-fouled just a few weeks before it visited Auckland late last year when it is likely to have become infected.

Irene Middleton, aquatic biosecurity officer for the Northland Regional Council, said the incident was a wake-up call.

“You can’t just rely on anti-foul. You have to know what’s on your hull and keep checking it, and you have to know the requirements of the places you’re going to.”

All marinas from Marsden Cove to Whangaroa were now insisting that arriving boats either prove they had had their hulls inspected in the previous month or had anti-foul applied within six months.

Waikato and the Bay of Plenty were bringing in similar restrictions.

Meanwhile, it appeared Whangaroa had “dodged a bullet” because the fanworms found on Catherine II were thought to be too young to have spawned into the harbour.

Tests in the council lab had found they were immature and not yet capable of reproducing. Samples had been sent to Niwa in Wellington for further testing.

For further information, go to the website of the marina you wish to use for clearing into New Zealand. The following information was sourced via the Women Who Sail (WWS) Facebook Group –

Opua Marina says the following:

“The Bay of Islands is a pristine marine environment and we are active in managing potential threats from harmful marine pests establishing themselves in the area. One of the major non-indigenous threats to the Bay at present is from Mediterranean Fanworm. This is currently well established in the greater Auckland Harbour and in parts of the Whangarei Harbour and Marsden Cove.

To manage this risk any vessel wanting to use marinas in the Far North have to prove that they are free of the pest before they arrive.

In this respect, in order to obtain a berth at Opua, the vessel will need to have antifoul not older than 6 months. If it is older than 6 months then a vessel must have had a power wash within the last month before a booking can be taken.”

See this interesting blog post by a boat that experienced a problem with this at Whangarei Marina in 2014:


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  1. March 26, 2019 at 2:48 AM
    Data Entry1 says:

    Not a problem for offshore arrivals into New Zealand!!
    This clean hull policy is only for boats that come out of the heavily fanworm infected Auckland waters and sail north.

    Offshore boats may be inspected and questioned in reference to other invasive pests they may be carrying, if their hull looks suspicious from above or a spot inspection with cameras, but the 6 months rule since antifouling does NOT apply. Feel welcome to come.
    – Sharron Beck, Whangarei Marina