Yachts and recreational vessels

If you're bringing a yacht or recreational vessel into New Zealand, you need to meet certain rules around biofouling. Find out the requirements and how to meet them.


What you must do

If you're the operator of a yacht or recreational vessel coming to New Zealand, you need to:

  • regularly clean and antifoul your vessel's hull and niche areas. Ensure they are kept free of biofouling and that your antifouling paint is in good condition and working effectively
  • clean hull and niche areas when your vessel has been stationary for periods of time.

We recommend you keep your biofouling management information in one place, like the vessel's logbook. This will help to show you have been managing your biofouling.

If you plan to stay in New Zealand waters for 21 days or more, you should ideally renew antifouling paint or clean your vessel less than 30 days before arrival (include travelling time). This can help reduce the likelihood of fouling growth being mature enough to reproduce in New Zealand.  You need to keep evidence of cleaning and antifouling. This may be requested by a quarantine inspector on arrival.

Requirements depend on time in New Zealand

Most yachts and recreational vessels come under MPI's 'long-stay' category (planning to be in New Zealand for 21 days or longer or visiting places that aren't places of first arrival).

  • Long-stay vessels are only allowed a slime layer and gooseneck barnacles.
  • Short-stay vessels (staying 20 days or less and only visiting ports of first arrival) are allowed slightly more biofouling.

Allowable amounts of biofouling are set out in the biofouling craft risk management standard.

Download the craft risk management standard for biofouling [PDF, 241 KB]

Photos to help you assess biofouling

Continual maintenance

Recreational vessels entering New Zealand can use continual maintenance to manage biofouling. Continual maintenance involves ongoing management of biofouling, including:

  • coating the hull and niche areas with antifouling paint appropriate for the planned voyage – consider the time sailing, time to be laid up, estimated speed of vessel
  • regularly inspecting and cleaning the hull and niche areas, including during the voyage
  • having contingency plans in place to minimise fouling if your plans change
  • keeping records to show how biofouling is managed.

IMO guidance for recreational vessels

Keep records

It's good practice to keep thorough records of your vessel's cleaning and antifouling history in one place, such as in a log book. Records should include:

  • antifouling paint details including:
    • inspections
    • notes on the effectiveness of the coating system (dated)
    • the anti-fouling manufacturer's product data sheet
  • dates, location and facility or person that carried out:
    • the last dry docking or haul-out
    • antifouling and treatment of internal seawater systems
    • hull inspection (and whether it was cleaned)
  • receipts from marinas, haul-out facilities and paint suppliers.

Use suitable hull antifouling systems

The vessel hull should be painted with an antifouling system that can prevent biofouling accumulating between haul outs. The system you apply should suit:

  • the planned dry docking schedule
  • the ship's speed and activity
  • any periods that the vessel will be stationary
  • what the vessel is made of – antifouling systems are made for different hull material (such as steel, wood or aluminium).

Where antifouling paint is damaged or no longer working well, consider in-water repair of the paint in the area, even if minor.

To minimise biofouling, either:

  • make sure your vessel's antifouling will remain effective for the entire voyage to New Zealand, or
  • remove hull biofouling before leaving the last place before New Zealand.

Maintain, inspect and clean niche areas

Recreational vessel showing niche areas, with close ups of propeller and shaft,


Internal seawater systems

Internal seawater systems are known to be high-risk areas for biofouling and can contain many foreign species. Monitor them regularly to make sure biofouling doesn't build up. Treat or flush internal systems with fresh water or use an approved preventative chemical treatment if:

Hull appendages

Any hull appendage can act as a niche area, even when painted with effective antifouling. Regularly inspect and clean these areas.

Fishing equipment

Clean all equipment used in seawater such as nets, lines and bottom grabs after use and check for biofouling before storage.

Find out more

Who to contact

If you have questions about biofouling requirements for yachts and recreational vessels, email standards@mpi.govt.nz 

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