Marine pests and diseases introduced to New Zealand on vessel hulls (biofouling) are a threat to our marine environment and resources. From May 2018, all commercial and recreational vessels arriving in New Zealand will need to have a clean hull. Find out about the new biofouling requirements.
On this page:
- New Zealand's new biofouling requirements
- What is a clean hull?
- How to comply with new requirements
- Specific advice for your vessel type
- MPI can help you prepare
From May 2018, vessels must arrive in New Zealand with a 'clean hull'. This means:
- Vessels staying 20 days or less and only visiting designated ports (places of first arrival) will be allowed a slight amount of biofouling (slime layer, goose barnacles, and up to 5% cover of early biofouling depending on the area fouled).
- Vessels staying longer than 20 days or visiting places that aren't places of first arrival will only be allowed a slime layer and goose barnacles.
The clean hull thresholds are not being enforced until May 2018. However, MPI can take action now on vessels that pose a severe biofouling risk.
View a diagram explaining severe biofouling risk [PDF, 613 KB]
Vessels that are likely to have biofouling
After May 2018, if we assess your vessel as likely to have more biofouling than the allowed threshold, we'll inspect your vessel's documents for:
- biofouling maintenance records
- operational history.
In some cases, we may have divers inspect the vessel underwater.
Vessels over the biofouling threshold
If your vessel has too much biofouling (more than the 'clean hull' threshold), MPI may:
- restrict entry of your vessel to New Zealand
- reduce your New Zealand itinerary
- ask you to clean your vessel offshore using an approved treatment or within 24 hours by an approved provider in New Zealand.
These measures will be at the expense of the vessel owner or operator.
A clean hull has no more than a slime layer coating of marine growth on the hull and submerged niche areas – such as sea chests, bow thrusters, seawater systems, and propeller shafts. However, the clean hull threshold (the allowed amount of biofouling) is based on a vessel's itinerary and the types of marine species present.
Allowable amounts of biofouling are set out in the Craft risk management standard (CRMS) for biofouling on vessels arriving to New Zealand. Descriptions and images of allowable amounts of biofouling, and biofouling management options are in the guidance document for the CRMS.
Alignment with international guidelines
New Zealand's CRMS requirements are based on the International Maritime Organization's Guidelines for the control and management of ships' biofouling to minimize the transfer of invasive aquatic species. These provide examples of biofouling management best practice.
You'll be able to meet the new clean hull requirements by doing one of the following (and having documentation to prove it):
- Cleaning the vessel hull less than 30 days before arrival in New Zealand or within 24 hours of arrival (you must have proof of a cleaning facility being booked within 24 hours of arrival).
- Doing continual maintenance, including applying an antifouling coating, on the hull and niche areas
- Applying MPI-approved treatments to the hull
Continual maintenance involves ongoing management of biofouling, including:
- having a biofouling management plan and a record book for the vessel detailing biofouling management activities
- coating the hull and niche areas with antifouling paint that is appropriate to where and how the vessel is operated (the operating profile)
- installing appropriate marine growth prevention systems to niche areas (such as chemical dosing of seawater systems)
- regularly inspecting and cleaning the hull to remove the slime layer
- having contingency plans in place to minimise fouling if the vessel does something out of the ordinary (operates outside its operating profile). For example, if the vessel is stationary for longer than usual).
These are treatments that remove or kill all organisms on the hull and niche areas, for example by applying chemicals or heat.
At 27 April 2017, MPI has not approved any biosecurity treatments. But some treatments will be approved before the new biofouling rules start in May 2018. We are developing the:
- details for approved cleaning and treatment systems
- process for getting MPI approval.
To discuss becoming an approved treatment provider, email email@example.com
When available, you'll find approved treatments and providers on our registers and lists page.
Making alternative arrangements to meet the standard
MPI is happy to consider alternative biofouling management arrangements to the CRMS. These need to be detailed in a specific plan called a Craft Risk Management Plan that must:
- be approved by MPI
- include steps to reduce risk to the equivalent level of arriving with a clean hull.
For advice on developing a Craft Risk Management Plan, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Providing evidence of compliance
Before you arrive, MPI may ask to see photographic (or video) evidence of the cleaned hull and niche areas. We may also ask to see your biofouling management plan and record book, including:
- dates of dry docking
- antifouling system application or installation
- vessel operational history
- evidence of independent inspections and ongoing maintenance (such as cleaning or treatment) by suitably qualified people.
Check what you'll need to do to get your vessel ready to meet the new clean hull requirements.
Short-stay vessels are those staying in New Zealand for 20 days or less, and only visiting approved ports of first arrival.
Most short-stay vessels are commercial vessels, including
- trading ships
- cruise vessels
- container ships
- commercial cargo vessels.
Short-stay vessels are likely to comply with the threshold by using continual maintenance, such as by following best practice under the IMO biofouling guidelines.
If your vessel operates outside of the capacity of its antifouling systems (for example if it's stationary for long periods), it will probably need cleaning or treatment before arrival in New Zealand.
Long-stay vessels are those staying 21 days or longer, or wanting to visit areas not approved as ports of first arrival.
Long-stay vessels typically include:
- recreational vessels
- project vessels
- drill rigs
- research vessels
- defence vessels.
These vessels should use continual maintenance to prevent biofouling. Because they're more likely to be fouled, operators of these vessels may also need to:
- clean before arrival (or within 24 hours of arrival), or
- use an MPI-approved treatment before arriving.
Yachts and other recreational vessels
Arriving yachts and other recreational vessels need to meet New Zealand's biofouling requirements as part of getting clearance to cruise freely in our waters. The IMO provides detailed guidance for recreational vessel owners to manage biofouling.
- NZ biofouling requirements for recreational vessels [PDF, 1.1 MB]
- IMO biofouling guidelines for recreational vessels
Vessels arriving for refit or haul-out
If you know your vessel is fouled and you want to have it hauled out or re-fitted in New Zealand, then before you arrive you must:
- book an MPI-approved facility or in-water cleaning or treatment provider
- give MPI evidence of your booking with the provider (the booking time must be within 24 hours of arrival).
At 27 April 2017, there are no MPI-approved providers. Some will be approved before the new biofouling rules start in May 2018. When available, you'll find providers on our registers and lists page.
MPI can help you:
- develop MPI-endorsed codes of practice for your industry group to help members comply with the new requirements
- develop an MPI-approved Craft Risk Management Plan for your vessel
- check if the biofouling on your vessel hull is acceptable
- get advice on acceptable hull preparation, cleaning, treatment and inspection.
For further details, email email@example.com
- Biofouling news – May 2014 [PDF, 20 KB]
- Update to stakeholders – April 2016 [PDF, 104 KB]
- Alert for fishing sector – biofouling readiness [PDF, 284 KB]
- Alert for workboats, project vessels and rigs – biofouling readiness [PDF, 313 KB]
- New Zealand's new border rules on hull fouling – for recreational vessels [PDF, 1.1 MB]
- Biofouling requirements for commercial shipping [PDF, 491 KB]
- Science behind the CRMS thresholds [PDF, 901 KB]
If you have questions about: