Biofouling management

Marine pests and diseases introduced to New Zealand on vessel hulls (biofouling) are a threat to our marine environment and resources. All vessels arriving in New Zealand must provide evidence of biofouling management prior to arrival.

New Zealand's new biofouling requirements

All vessels arriving in New Zealand must provide evidence of biofouling management before they arrive.

The Craft Risk Management Standard (CRMS) for Biofouling outlines the requirements for international vessels.

More guidance on how to meet the requirements is available in our:

Two vessel categories under the CRMS

Vessels are sorted into 2 different categories based on their intended stay in New Zealand.

  • Short-stay vessels – those staying in New Zealand for less than 21 days, and only visiting approved ports of first arrival.
  • Long-stay vessels – those staying 21 days or longer, or visiting areas not approved as ports of first arrival.

Most short-stay vessels are commercial vessels, including

  • tankers
  • bulkers
  • container ships
  • commercial cargo vessels.

Long-stay vessels typically include:

  • yachts and other recreational vessels
  • cruise vessels
  • work and project vessels
  • research vessels
  • defence vessels.

How to comply with new requirements

You'll be able to meet the biofouling requirements by doing one of the following (and having documentation to prove it):

  • Doing continual hull maintenance using best practices (recommended for short-stay vessels).
  • Cleaning the vessel hull less than 30 days before arrival in New Zealand (recommended for long-stay vessels).
  • Booking an appointment for the vessel to be hauled out and cleaned by an MPI-approved treatment supplier within 24 hours of arrival (recommended for vessels coming to New Zealand for refit or repair).

If your vessel can't meet the standard using one of the above measures, you may develop a Craft Risk Management Plan that details alternate but equivalent measures to manage biofouling.

Providing evidence of compliance

Before you arrive, MPI will ask to see evidence that you've followed one of the above measures. Evidence must be verifiable and may include:

  • your Biofouling Management Plan and record book
  • dates and reports of dry docking
  • current antifouling certificates
  • vessel operational history
  • evidence of independent inspections and ongoing maintenance (such as cleaning or treatment) by suitably qualified people.

If you plan to submit a dive inspection report as evidence of hull maintenance, check MPI's guidelines for diving service providers. These outline what should be in a hull inspection report and allowed biofouling (for short-stay vessels).

Continual maintenance using best practices

Demonstrating continual hull maintenance using best practices is the recommended option for short-stay vessels.

Best practice involves ongoing management of biofouling, including:

  • applying an antifouling paint on the hull and niche areas
  • developing and maintaining a Biofouling Management Plan and record book
  • regular hull inspections and cleaning.

Best practices are outlined in the International Maritime Organization's (IMO's) Guidelines for the control and management of ships' biofouling to minimize the transfer of invasive aquatic species.

Download the IMO's biofouling guidelines

What to put in a Biofouling Management Plan [PDF, 1009 KB]

If you are unsure if your vessel has been managed using best practice, MPI has guidance to help you check your vessel's risk level.

Cleaning prior to arrival

Cleaning the vessel's entire hull, including all niche areas, fewer than 30 days prior to arrival in New Zealand is the recommended option for long-stay vessels.

To comply, you must provide evidence that all hull and niche areas have been cleaned of all fouling in excess of goose barnacles and a slime layer. Acceptable evidence:

  • may include hull cleaning or dry docking reports
  • should include photographs or video of all hull and niche areas after cleaning.

Cleaning with an MPI-approved treatment supplier

If you know your vessel is fouled and you want to have it hauled out or re-fitted in New Zealand, before you arrive you must:

  • book an appointment for haul out with an MPI-approved treatment supplier (the booking time must be within 24 hours of arrival)
  • give MPI evidence of your booking with the provider.

Craft Risk Management Plans

If your vessel can't meet the CRMS requirements using one of the 3 options, you may develop a Craft Risk Management Plan that outlines alternate but equivalent ways of managing biofouling. Craft Risk Management Plans must:

  • be approved by MPI
  • include steps to reduce risk to the equivalent level of arriving with a clean hull.

Application form and guidance for developing a Craft Risk Management Plan [PDF, 949 KB]

Non-compliant vessels

If you are unable to provide verifiable evidence that you've used one of the compliance options above, MPI may:

  • require a hull inspection upon arrival to New Zealand
  • restrict entry of your vessel to New Zealand
  • restrict your New Zealand itinerary
  • ask you to clean your vessel within 24 hours by an approved provider in New Zealand.

These measures will be at the expense of the vessel owner or operator.

Specific advice for your vessel type

Check what you'll need to do to get your vessel ready to meet the new biofouling requirements.

MPI can help you prepare

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
  • get advice on acceptable hull preparation, cleaning, treatment, and inspection.

For further details, email

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Who to contact

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