Biosecurity for boating and watersports

If you go boating or take part in watersports, it's important you look after our aquatic environments and the species that live there. Find out what you need to do to prevent pests from getting into our rivers, lakes and coastal areas, and how to check local fishing rules.

Don't spread aquatic pests

Aquatic pests can be carried into new rivers, lakes and coastal areas on boats and other watersport equipment. Help prevent the introduction of pests to new areas by keeping your boat and equipment clean – especially when moving between waterways.

Make sure your boat is clean

Before you take a boat to a new river, lake or coastal area, make sure it is clean and free of biofouling (a build-up of plants, algae or animals like shellfish).

Clean watersport equipment

It's important to clean watersport equipment – such as jet skis, fishing gear, diving and snorkelling gear, canoes, kayaks, and anchors – before moving to a new coastal area or waterway.

If you don't want to clean your gear, you should only use it in a single coastal area or waterway.

How to clean equipment used in fresh water

Use the 'check, clean, dry' method to clean gear whenever you move between freshwater lakes, rivers and streams.

How to clean equipment used in marine waters

Before you take marine (sea) equipment to a new area:

  • check for, remove, and dispose of any living or dead organisms appropriately on land
  • rinse equipment with fresh water
  • thoroughly dry equipment, if possible.

Wash jet skis with freshwater after use and flush the internal jet unit with freshwater or an approved treatment.

Don't move aquatic plants and animals

Make sure you don’t move plants or animals between different areas, whether intentionally or unintentionally (on dirty equipment). For example, if you go fishing:

  • don't take bait between different areas
  • don't dump offal from cleaning your catch in a new area – put it in a rubbish bin.

Find out more

Be alert to different aquatic life

Be alert for aquatic life that looks different when boating, fishing, diving or participating in other watersports. Exotic organisms can establish and spread very quickly, so it's important we find and remove them quickly.

If you think you've found something unusual:

  • carefully note its location
  • grab a sample if you can – for anything other than seaweed, place a sample in a plastic bag and refrigerate
  • for seaweed samples, liberally sprinkle with salt, leave overnight, then drain off liquid and place in plastic bag.

Contact MPI's pest and disease hotline on 0800 80 99 66.

Find out more

Follow fishing rules

New Zealand has specific fishing rules to protect fish and shellfish populations. You must follow the rules around catch and size limits, closures and restricted areas. MPI sets the rules for saltwater fishing, while Fish & Game New Zealand regulates freshwater fishing.

Who to contact

To report a pest, call MPI's pest and disease hotline on 0800 80 99 66.

For information about biosecurity or fishing rules, email

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