MAF Biosecurity New Zealand seeks views on ballast water controls

31 October 2007

MAF Biosecurity New Zealand (MAFBNZ) is seeking submissions from interested parties on managing the risk of marine pest organisms being introduced to New Zealand in ships’ ballast water.

Out of their natural habitat, marine pests can threaten a range of economic, social, cultural, and environmental benefits we derive from our seas.

“Once established here, pests are extremely difficult and costly to control, particularly given the scale of the New Zealand coastline and the sheer number of vessel movements around it. It is important that priority is given to enhancing national measures to prevent the introduction of invasive marine pests, and the need to be part of international efforts to prevent the global transportation of marine organisms,” says Allan Bauckham of MAFBNZ’s policy and risk group.

The discharge of ballast water is one of the main ways marine pests can be introduced to New Zealand. Each year almost three million metric tonnes of ballast water sourced from outside our Exclusive Economic Zone is discharged into New Zealand ports. If unmanaged, this water is more likely to contain eggs and larvae of marine organisms able to establish here.

“We need, therefore, to maintain and improve our controls on ballast water discharges into our ports, as the first line of defence against marine pest introductions,” Mr Bauckham says.

New Zealand introduced its own mandatory controls on ballast water discharges in 1998, under the Biosecurity Act 1993.

“As shipping is an international industry, however, the most effective way to address shipping related issues is through a standardised international control regime, such as the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships Ballast Water and Sediments. While the Convention has yet to enter into force, it is now timely for New Zealand to decide if it will become a party to this Convention.”

MAFBNZ has just published a discussion paper “Managing and Controlling the Risk to the Marine Environment from Ballast Water Discharges.”

To view the paper online, go to:

The paper describes and analyses three options for New Zealand in response to the Convention. These are:

  • Maintaining the status quo, and not becoming party;
  • Implementing stricter controls without becoming party; and
  • Changing domestic legislation so we can then become party to the Convention.

Submissions on the paper can be posted to:

MAF Biosecurity New Zealand
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
PO Box 2526
Attention: Allan Bauckham
or emailed to:

The closing date for submissions is 21 December 2007. Feedback received will be analysed by MAFBNZ and incorporated into advice to the Government.

For further information, please contact:

Lesley Patston, Senior Communications Adviser, Phone 04 8940163 or 029 8940163

Contact MPI

for general enquiries phone

0800 00 83 33