Biofouling measures approved for naval vessels

October 20 2020

New measures to prevent biofouling will reduce the risk of Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) vessels introducing marine pests and diseases to New Zealand without creating any undue restrictions on naval operations. 

Biosecurity New Zealand and RNZN have signed off on a new craft risk management plan that provides a practical solution that both manages biosecurity risks and allows RNZN to freely undertake its duties overseas.  The plan is the result of 18 months’ work by Defence Estate and Infrastructure’s Environmental Services team and Biosecurity New Zealand. 

Peter Thomson, Biosecurity New Zealand’s Director Animal and Plant Health, says: “Vessel biofouling is recognised as a significant pathway for the spread of marine pests and diseases around the world.

“The plan recognises RNZN’s unique challenges in meeting New Zealand’s strict biofouling requirements for international vessels that wish to stay in local waters for more than 21 days or visit unapproved ports.”

RNZN Chief Naval Engineer Captain Richard Walker welcomed the new craft risk management plan.

“With New Zealand being a maritime nation and as a key player in our marine industry, we want to set a good example. This new plan allows us to do that. 

“We are pleased to be at the forefront of protecting New Zealand from unwelcome marine pests and diseases. NZDF’s Environmental Services team and Biosecurity New Zealand have done a great job to reach a practical solution that satisfies the requirements of both organisations.

“NZDF is demonstrating leadership within the shipping industry by applying a best-practice biofouling management approach to RNZN vessels that ensures their operations do not pose a biosecurity risk to the environment,” says Captain Walker.

The plan requires NZDF to meet the same standard of cleanliness as other vessels of the same size. However, it allows different approaches to meet that standard.

This plan also avoids the need for RNZN vessels to go into drydock. This is often impossible or impractical, given the size of the ships and their unique operating profile. For example, the vessels normally only spend short periods of time outside New Zealand territorial waters.

Biosecurity New Zealand has reviewed and documented the approach, which meets international guidelines under the International Maritime Organisation and New Zealand’s biosecurity requirements.

With the introduction of the Craft Risk Management Risk Standard for Biofouling in May 2018, New Zealand became the first country in the world to introduce nationwide rules to combat the biosecurity risk from biofouling.

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