International vessel operators need to be aware of strict new rules for managing biofouling that will come into force early next year, says the Ministry for Primary Industries.
The Craft Risk Management Standard for Biofouling will take effect from May 2018. The new standard aims to reduce the threat of marine pests to New Zealand's marine environment.
Under the new rules, vessels that don't meet the requirements of the standard may face delays, cleaning expenses, or have itinerary or entry restrictions.
"The rules will help protect New Zealand's aquaculture industry and local marine life," says Paul Hallett, MPI Biosecurity and Environment Group Manager.
"It is only a few months before the rules come into force and we strongly advise commercial and recreational vessel operators to contact MPI if they do not know how to comply."
The standard can be met by cleaning or treating the hull prior to arrival, or carrying out regular hull maintenance, including applying an antifouling coating. Operators will need to keep verifiable records of their actions, says Mr Hallett.
Vessels staying in New Zealand waters for less than 3 weeks can meet the new rules by following best practice guidelines released by the International Maritime Organisation in 2011.
The guidelines include use of appropriate antifouling agents on the hull and niche areas, operation of marine growth prevention systems on sea-chests and regular hull inspections.
Mr Hallett says vessels planning to stay in New Zealand for more than 3 weeks or visiting multiple ports will face the most restrictions. Operators may need to haul out and clean their vessel if they cannot do regular inspections or cleaning.
"Any more biofouling than a layer of slime will require the long-stay vessel to be cleaned or moved off-shore at the operator's expense."
The fishing industry and other New Zealand-based vessels may need tailored compliance plans to manage biofouling.
"Vessels that show they are following the rules will be rewarded with less intervention, which will mean speedier arrival processes. In contrast, those that regularly show up non-compliant can expect extra scrutiny and the possibility they will be directed to leave New Zealand waters."
Further information about the new biofouling regulations is available on the MPI website.