Keeping Marine Pests out of Fiordland - Update #3



Good news


The Steering Group is delighted that the Fiordland Marine Guardians and Environment Southland have established pages on their websites dedicated to the Fiordland Pathway Management Plan initiative. Updates # 1 and 2 can now be found on and We intend posting all the Updates on these sites so those with an interest can follow and take part in the development of the Plan.


Keeping Marine Pests out of Fiordland

Update # 3


The Fiordland Pathway Management Plan Steering Group met in July to consider the first component of the Plan - clean vessels and gear. We were very fortunate to have participants with additional expertise and practical skills working with us on this topic.


‘It’s all about keeping vessels clean’


Fouling on vessel hulls and gear provides the perfect habitat for marine pests - somewhere to settle, somewhere new to go. ‘Pest proofing’ simply involves cleaning hulls, niche areas (such as anchor wells) and gear. Smooth, clean, antifouled surfaces are the curse of marine pests.


1. How clean does ‘clean’ have to be?


Vessel hulls and niche areas

There is a widely accepted clean vessel standard for vessel hulls and niche areas such as propellers, stabilisers, boarding platforms and zinc blocks, to ensure vessels cannot give pests a ride to somewhere new - like Fiordland. We are indeed fortunate that this standard has very recently been confirmed by scientific studies. In fact, the Australian Government has adopted the standard in their Anti-fouling and In-water Cleaning Guidelines (June 2013), guidelines New Zealand has also adopted.


Clean Vessel Standard - No more than a slime layer and some barnacles


We are not quite so well off when it comes to defining how clean ‘clean gear’ needs to be. But we do know that in addition to the bottoms of boats, marine pests also colonise a range of gear such as anchors, ropes and fishing gear. Our approach was to list the gear associated with all types and sizes of vessels that visit Fiordland, then work through each type of gear and, with advice from biosecurity specialists, develop clean gear standards. At the end of the exercise it was clear that just one standard applied to all types of gear.


Clean Gear Standard - Visibly clean, free of fouling and sediment

This standard applies to anchors, ropes, mooring ropes/lines, floats, fishing gear (lines, pots and live wells), diving gear, tenders and research equipment.


2. What are the best ways to clean vessels and gear?

There is a wealth of information about vessel cleaning methods appropriate for vessels of all types and sizes. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has worked very hard to produce reports, guides and videos aimed at raising

vessel owners/operators’ awareness about the scourge of marine pests. And more particularly, MPI has communicated how both antifouling and keeping hulls and gear clean can combat such threats.


Since 2009, a number of reports have focused specifically on Fiordland because of the pristine nature of its marine environment and the desire to keep marine pests out.


In 2010 an attractive, user-friendly guide was produced by MPI, the Guardians, ES and DOC entitled:

“Clean Boats - Living Seas: A boatie’s guide to protecting Fiordland’s unique and precious marine environment”.


Since then the most vulnerable aspects of vessel hulls, niche areas and gear have been subject to ongoing in-depth studies. As a result more detailed advice about effective cleaning methods is becoming available and is being promoted by MPI.


So we can be confident that vessel cleaning methods and information about them will not be an issue for our Fiordland Marine Pathway Management Plan. What is required though, is a way of making this information available in a concise form to operators of different types of vessels residing in or bound for Fiordland.


There is a need to extract material relevant to Fiordland from the variety of studies that are documented in sizeable technical reports for different types and sizes of vessels. Ideally, owners/operators should be able to source

information that is relevant for their specific type of vessel. For instance, cleaning methods for a large tourist vessel are likely to be different to those for small recreational vessels trailered into Milford or Doubtful Sounds.


It’s only with your input that the best information can be developed and distributed to all vessel owners/operators

who rely on, or enjoy the special values Fiordland has to offer.


You can help by indicating whether it would be more useful to have:

Information about cleaning for all types of vessel and gear compiled into a handbook?


Information about cleaning for your specific type of vessel and gear available electronically?


We look forward to hearing your views.


3. Where should vessel cleaning be carried out?

For smaller boats, that can be trailered into Fiordland via Milford or Doubtful Sounds or helicoptered into the fiords, cleaning is likely to be carried out by owners/operators at home or where boats are kept, without a need for commercial facilities. But for larger vessels such as tourist vessels, super yachts, syndicate/recreational vessels and fishing boats that require lifting out of the water to be cleaned, adequate infrastructure is obviously required.


The only local vessel cleaning facility capable of handling larger vessels is located at Southport, Bluff Harbour. The Syncrolift can lift vessels from the water onto trolleys and take them to an appropriate area for cleaning. An assessment of the Syncrolift and its operation has revealed ways to prevent the wait that some vessel operators occasionally experience. Given this, the Southport facility is considered to be adequate for vessel cleaning requirements of local vessels visiting or residing in Fiordland.


In contrast, the issue of cleaning facilities for vessels visiting Fiordland from further afield still needs to be addressed. For instance, vessels heading to Fiordland from ports and marinas where marine pests are already established present a high risk of carrying these pests with them. Ports in Northland, Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Nelson, Picton, Lyttelton, Timaru and Otago are known to harbour marine pests. This is by no means a complete list – indeed the situation is very dynamic as pests continue to be transported into new locations around the country. This suggests the most sensible way of protecting Fiordland is to ensure vessels are cleaned before arriving in Fiordland

waters, either at their point of origin or at facilities on the way.


If you are a vessel owner/operator who travels south into Fiordland waters:


1. Are adequate vessel cleaning facilities available where your vessel is moored/anchored?


2. At what other locations on your trip south can you access vessel cleaning facilities?


It’s only with this type of information that we’ll be able to put together a common sense plan that works for vessel

owners/operators and the Fiordland Marine Area.


Your thoughts and ideas about any aspect of this clean vessel Update are welcome.


Our Steering Group contact is: