Spotlight back on yacht biosecurity

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The Ministry for Primary Industries plans to turn the biosecurity spotlight on international yachts visiting Northland this season.

Last season MPI introduced a range of new biosecurity checks following two Queensland fruit fly finds in Whangarei.

"On the whole, the yachting community is very good at following New Zealand's biosecurity requirements, but last season showed there is value in providing more education and more layers of protection," says Sharon Tohovaka, MPI's North Ports Manager.  

This season (from October to December) there will be 4 extra staff based in the region to carry out biosecurity inspections, says Ms Tohovaka.

And following successful trials last season, biosecurity dog teams will be used to help check selected vessels for undeclared food, plants and other risk goods that could carry pests and diseases.

Naval and aerial surveillance will also start in October to ensure vessels do not make landfall in New Zealand before they arrive at Opua or Marsden Cove (the only approved places for yachts to arrive in Northland). 

"We need to make sure that yachts are clean before they start exploring the region or other parts of New Zealand."

MPI has also been working to raise the level of biosecurity awareness among the yacht community, says Ms Tohovaka, who has just returned from a visit to Fiji to speak with yachties intending to sail to New Zealand.

"The two main yacht gathering points in the South Pacific are Musket Cove in Fiji and Vava'u in Tonga.

"Last season we sent officers to these locations to answer questions about New Zealand's biosecurity rules. It was a very useful exercise for building biosecurity awareness, so we're repeating it again this year, this time working closely with local biosecurity authorities."

Biosecurity rules for arriving yachts

  • Yachts must arrive at one of New Zealand's approved places of first arrival, where a biosecurity inspector will inspect and clear the vessel and passengers for entry into New Zealand.
  • Once inside New Zealand waters (12 nautical miles from the coast), all rubbish on an arriving yacht must be contained in closed leak-proof containers or sealed in strong plastic bags. A biosecurity inspector will direct the disposal of all rubbish on arrival.
  • Each person aboard the arriving yacht must complete a personal declaration. Any quarantine risk items must be declared.
  • The vessel's master must complete a declaration of all risk items aboard that are either restricted or prohibited.
  • Biosecurity clearance to cruise New Zealand waters will only be granted if prohibited goods are surrendered or undergo treatment.
  • Biosecurity risk items may include food, rubbish (particularly food waste), plants, live animals, and endangered species items such as coral, turtle shells and ivory.

Further information on entry requirements for yachts is available on the MPI Biosecurity website:

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