The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has released guidance on how international vessels can comply with strict new biofouling rules.
Next month, New Zealand will become the first country in the world to introduce a nationwide standard for biofouling. From 15 May, all commercial and recreational vessel operators will have to show they have managed biofouling on their vessels before they enter New Zealand waters.
"Biofouling presents a major biosecurity risk to New Zealand. The new standard aims to reduce this risk and protect our unique marine environment and our aquaculture industries by ensuring vessels arrive with a clean hull," says MPI's biosecurity and environment group manager, Paul Hallett.
"Over the past 4 years, MPI has been working incredibly hard to ensure everyone is aware and ready to comply when the standard goes live in May."
A new guidance document to accompany the standard has just been released to help vessel operators understand the new rules and how they can comply.
MPI has also released a guidance document for developing customised Craft Risk Management Plans.
"We understand that not all vessels will be able to meet the compliance measures outlined in the standard. Craft Risk Management Plans allow these vessels to develop a more tailored compliance plan to manage the biofouling," says Mr Hallett.
"We expect vessels with unique operating profiles, such as cruise ships and fishing vessels, will most likely use this option."
MPI will assess the biofouling risk of the vessel prior to its arrival based on documents supplied by the operator.
"We’ll be looking for evidence of continual maintenance, cleaning, or treatment to verify the vessel complies with the new rules.
"Vessels that are unable to comply with the new regulations may have their schedules interrupted or restricted, or even face the possibility of being directed to leave New Zealand territory.
"These measures will all be at the expense of the vessel owner or operator."
"While we are confident industry is ready for the new rules, we strongly advise vessel operators to get in touch with MPI if they are still unsure how to comply."
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