In May 2018 New Zealand became the first country in the world to introduce a nationwide standard that sets specific thresholds for biofouling of international vessels. These strict biofouling rules, called the Craft Risk Management Standard for Biofouling (CRMS-BIOFOUL), require that all commercial and recreational vessel operators prove they have managed biofouling on their vessels before they enter New Zealand waters.
The Ministry for Primary Industries assesses the biofouling risk of a vessel prior to its arrival based on documents supplied by the operator, including evidence of continual maintenance, cleaning, or treatment to verify the vessel complies with the new rules. Vessels that are unable to comply with the regulations may have their schedules interrupted or restricted, or face the possibility of being directed to leave New Zealand territory.
Chris Galbraith is General Manager of Far North Holdings Ltd, which operates one of the largest Place of First Arrival Berths in New Zealand. Last year, the facility at Bay of islands Marina in Opua welcomed 475 overseas vessels to New Zealand.
Chris explains that vessels arriving at the marina – as with other New Zealand ports – must provide documentation showing that one of the measures outlined in the Craft Risk Management Standard for Biofouling (CRMS-Biofoul) has been met.
For example, this can include evidence that the hull and niche areas have been cleaned less than 30 days before the vessel arrived in New Zealand, or that the vessel is being cleaned immediately upon arrival at an approved facility. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) then has the option to inspect the hull, often using underwater cameras.
Date-stamped photos of cleaned hull and niche areas are ideal as evidence of a clean boat, but receipts and other information are also useful.
He says that New Zealand requirements are amongst the most stringent in the world.
"Long before the vessel arrives in port, the Bay of Islands Marina team help ensure that the master understands the requirements relating to marine pests in New Zealand," he explains. By way of example, a light slime layer is expected after an ocean voyage. Goose barnacles are also acceptable. But more extensive growth is not.
Chris says that Bay of Islands Marina also works with the Whangarei Regional Promotions Group, to include information about clearance in its marketing materials, and travels to locations including Panama, Tonga and French Polynesia to spread the word.
A clean hull is also an indication of good seamanship and generally Chris says that vessels are almost always clean before they depart for New Zealand – no skipper likes voyaging with unnecessary hull growth.
The message does seem to be getting through. Only a few vessels out of the 475 arrivals in Opua, were directed by MPI to be hauled out of the water last year.
However there can be confusion for vessels that have arrived in New Zealand and undergone processes to ensure they are not carrying marine pests, then encountering different rules and requirements as they travel around the regions that may be more stringent.
For this group, the Inter-Regional Marine Pest Pathway Management Plan will be welcome to help assist with consistent rules and requirements for all boaties.