The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has announced that it will implement new measures in a bid to avoid biofouling on Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) vessels.

This is expected to reduce the risk of marine pests and diseases in the country and not restrict the operations of the navy.

The RNZN and Biosecurity New Zealand signed a new craft risk management plan. They have partnered for 18 months to explore options to find a solution, keeping in mind the biosecurity risks and the overseas operations of RNZN.

Biosecurity New Zealand Animal and Plant Health director Peter Thomson said: “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.”

As per the new plan, NZDF needs to adhere to the same cleanliness standard as other same sized vessels. However, it will permit different methods to meet this standard.

Additionally, the RNZN vessels do not need to go into drydock, which is impractical due to the size and the operating profile of the vessels.

The approach was reviewed and documented by Biosecurity New Zealand and is in accordance with the international guidelines of International Maritime Organisation and the biosecurity requirements of the country.

In 2018, New Zealand was the first to introduce rules to fight the biosecurity risk arising from biofouling, with the implementation of Craft Risk Management Risk Standard for Biofouling.

In the same year, researchers tested corrosion-resistant coatings on the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) Canberra-class landing helicopter dock ship, HMAS Canberra.