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Marine pests prompt local hull cleaning rule rethink

Published: 19 March 2019
Mediterranean fanworm on hull of boat

The Auckland public is being asked for their views on whether a more consistent regulatory framework is required to help stop the spread of marine pests across New Zealand’s four busiest boating regions.

For several years, Auckland Council has collaborated with the Northland, Bay of Plenty and Waikato regions, the Ministry for Primary Industries and boaties, to stop the spread of unwanted marine pests like Mediterranean fanworm hitchhiking on vessel hulls.

Councillor Penny Hulse, Chair of Auckland Council’s Environment and Community Committee, says while Biosecurity New Zealand (a business unit of the Ministry for Primary Industries) manages national rules to minimise the risk of new pest species arriving on vessels from overseas, the regulations for New Zealand-based vessels moving within coastal waters vary from region to region.

“Given our four northern-most regional councils are also collectively home to the country’s biggest boating populations, we think a consistent regulatory approach is a crucial part of how we respond to the growing threat of marine pests,” Councillor Hulse says.

Auckland Council Senior Marine Biosecurity Advisor, Samantha Happy says New Zealand’s coastline and rich, diverse marine life has long been at the heart of our shared national identity, but as the population – and an associated increase in boat movements – grew, so too did the risks of marine pest spread.

“These pests threaten our incredible coastal playground and its underwater life, including Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve (Goat Island), our harbours and Great Barrier Island.  They also pose considerable risks to our tourism and aquaculture industries. Recent biosecurity incidents at Great Barrier Island highlight the need to protect what we sometimes take for granted – our marine environment”

The consultation proposes a number of potential options ranging from a requirement for a clean hull at all times, only when moving or only when moving to specially identified places.

Councillor Hulse says the four northern councils are wanting to hear what their respective local communities think before advancing the initiative further.

“We’d like to encourage as many people as possible to take this opportunity to have a say on this important local authority issue that traverses several regions.”

A discussion document outlining possible options, including their pros and cons, can be found on the Bionet website, along with the opportunity to give feedback online

The two-month feedback period runs from Monday 18 March until Friday 24 May 2019. 

There will be information evenings run at four locations across Auckland and a marine biosecurity stand at the Hutchwilco boat show in May.

All the feedback will then be reported back to each of the four councils around the middle of 2019 and guide future decisions on whether a more consistent regulatory framework should be developed.

Background information about preventing the spread of marine pests in Auckland and our current hull biofouling rules are available online here