Strict rules to ban biofouling on ships in New Zealand and Australia
It seems that invasive barnacles transported by shipping and unwanted marine biofouling could be an increasing problem in Australia, New Zealand and possibly also other parts of the southern oceans. The New Zealand government website of the Ministry for Primary Industries (mpi.govt.nz) says on biofouling: “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.” The stance taken in Australia is quite similar, where strict rules on banning biofouling have been in effect since June 2022. These demand that that ship operators should “demonstrate implementation of proactive management practices” with regard to fouling and that authorities may inspect hulls and “manage” unacceptable fouling.
These rules are strictly implemented, as shown in December 2022 and January 2023, when two cruise ships – the Viking Orion and the Coral Princess – were denied entry into New Zealand and Australian ports and coastal waters. For the Viking Orion, the problem of biofouling was established while in Wellington port. The ship was consequently banned from stopping at Christchurch and Dunedin, also from visiting Hobart on Tasmania. Before finally entering Adelaide port, the ship had to be cleared of underwater biofouling by divers sent by the Australian authorities: “The vessel is required to undergo hull cleaning to remove the biofouling and prevent potentially harmful marine organisms being transported by the vessel,” the Australian Fisheries Management Authority said in a brief statement. In case of the Coral Princess, a cruise through Milford Sound and a stop at Port Chalmers had to be cancelled after snails were found on her hull.
Maybe on a lesser scale, but equally noteworthy, is the problem being encountered by participants of the “Golden Globe Race”, sailing in the Southern Ocean and who are being slowed dramatically by excessive barnacle growth on their yachts. Again, traditional antifouling paints quite obviously cannot cope.