Bio Security

Protecting New Zealand from marine pests

Exotic marine species can be carried from location to location as fouling on vessel hulls or hidden on vessels in pockets of retained seawater. Many exotic marine organisms, if introduced to New Zealand, could have an irreversible impact on our unique marine environment and valuable industries such as tourism and aquaculture.

To simplify your arrival in New Zealand, before setting sail from your home port:

  • ensure antifouling or bottom paint is fresh and in good condition

Before setting sail from your last port before New Zealand:

  • check condition of antifouling or bottom paint, and if required, repair or apply fresh coating
  • ensure your hull is free of any fouling (seaweed, barnacles, shellfish, tube worms, slime layers etc)
  • clean your hull, paying particular attention to areas where marine organisms can establish such as around propellers, stabilisers, keels and anchor wells.

On arrival at your first New Zealand port of entry, a quarantine inspector may check your vessel hull for fouling and direct you to a cleaning facility, should cleaning be required.

Further biosecurity information

There are some specific pests of current concern to Ministry of Primary Industries/Border Clearance (MPI) Biosecurity New Zealand that cruising vessel owners should be aware of.

Mediterranean fanworm (Sabella spallanzanii)

This pest fanworm is present in a small population in the South Island’s Lyttelton Port of Christchurch. It has the potential to harm New Zealand’s marine environment by competing with native species for habitat and food. MPIBNZ is currently attempting to eliminate the pest from this location. e Mediterranean fanworm is a fouling pest and can spread from one location to another by hitchhiking on dirty boat bottoms. e most effective way to prevent the spread of the fanworm and other pest species is to ensure vessel hulls are regularly cleaned and antifouling coatings in good condition. Please check your hull for fouling, and if required, clean before moving locations around New Zealand.
Styela clava sea squirt
Styela clava is a type of sea squirt or ascidian which is widely spread throughout Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf, in Tutukaka and Marsden Cove marinas in Northland and in Lyttelton. It is another fouling pest, easily spread on fouled hulls
Eudistoma elongatum sea squirt

This variety of sea squirt is native to Australia and is now spread throughout a number of harbours in Northland. While in its native range it has not been demonstrated to harm the environment or marine farming, it is proving unsightly in Northland. Once again, this nuisance pest is easily trafficked on dirty boats.
Red Imported Fire Ant (RIFA)
Native to South America, southern USA, the Caribbean, Taiwan and China, these vicious ants with fiery stings have been found on vessels arriving in New Zealand. Nests have been destroyed onboard before the ants have established themselves in New Zealand.

On arrival in New Zealand waters, please check areas on your vessel that can harbour insect pests – typically:

  • decks
  • holds
  • galleys and other areas where food is found
  • warm areas such as near engine rooms.

If you find ants (RIFA or other species) or other hitchhiking pests such as cockroaches, spiders, termites or lizards, please contain and if possible, destroy them and inform the biosecurity inspector on arrival.
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Port Officials may direct the vessel to secure in designated anchorages or berths. Some ports may levy a small Port Charge, although this commercially based charge is sometimes waived for smaller vessels.

Once the entry formalities have been completed, the crew and vessel are free to travel throughout the country. There is no need to inform any government department about the movement of the vessel or crew until departure.


All garbage must be disposed of through the recognised disposal system for the particular port. The Quarantine Officer will explain this at each port.

All Vessels – Sewage Discharges

An amendment to the Resource Management (Marine Pollution) Regulations to increase the controls on sewage discharges from boats came into force on 1 July 2002. The Regulations specify approved Grade A and Grade B on-board sewage treatment systems. The rules governing discharges of treated sewage from your boat depend on the type of treatment system that you have. If your boat has a Grade A treatment system, you may discharge treated sewage anywhere except within 100 metres of a marine farm. Boats with a Grade B treatment system may discharge anywhere except within 500 metres of a marine farm or mataitai reserve (gazetted customary fishing area).

For discharges of untreated sewage from your boats you must be more than:

  • 500 metres from the shore
  • 500 metres from a marine farm and mataitai reserve
  • 200 metres from a marine reserve and in waters more than 5 metres in depth.

It is the responsibility of each vessel-owner to ensure compliance with the regulations however to assist your understanding of the new requirements we provide below the specified Grade B sewage treatment systems as defined in Schedule 7 of the amended regulations. (Grade A treatment systems are defined by specific standards that must be met and these are listed in Schedule 6 of the Resource Management (Marine Pollution) Amendment Regulations 2002.)

Specified Grade B Sewage Treatment Systems:

  • Delta Maine Head (Galley Maid Marine Products, US)
  • Central Waste Treatment System (Galley Maid Marine Products, US)
  • Lectra/San MC (Raritan Engineering Co., US)
  • Saanx One (Sealand Technology, Inc., US)
  • Should you have any queries in respect of the legislation you are advised to contact the Ministry for the Environment here

And please remember that even if you are using an approved sewage treatment system it is not appropriate to discharge any waste within a marina.

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