Biofouling: The issue plaguing New Zealand’s cruise industry this season

Biofouling: The issue plaguing New Zealand’s cruise industry this season

Eight cruise ships have been interrupted from entering New Zealand’s waters this season as the government cracks downs on the issue of biofouling on cruisers hulls.

Biofouling is the accumulation of microorganisms, plants, algae, or small animals where it is not wanted on surfaces, in this case ships, and has previously been an issue in New Zealand when the ‘craft risk management standard for biofouling’ was brought into effect in 2018.

Several of the vessels were forced to change itineraries as New Zealand enforced a hull-cleaning requirement designed to minimise the risk of biosecurity issues that can enable organisms to become an invasive species in a new environments as they reproduce and outcompete native species.

Cruise ship in New Zealand.

Environmental health manager for biosecurity, New Zealand, Paul Hallet said the issues stem from many ships having layups through COVID as well as a lack of professional cleaning staff.

Hallet also noted how important it is to stay on top of the issue.

“We know that nearly 90 per cent of marine pests arrive in New Zealand on the submerged surfaces of international vessels,” Hallet said.

The ships that faced biofouling issues were: Queen Elizabeth, Azamara Quest, Coral Princess, Viking Orion, Regent’s Seven Seas Explorer, Silversea’s Silver Whisper, P&O Australia’s Pacific Explorer and Ponant’s Le Laperouse. 

Some of these ships were allowed to continue on their itinerary after consultation with New Zealand officials whilst others, like the Viking Orion were forced to head to less sensitive areas to undergo cleaning processes.

Viking Orion was also delayed from entering Australian waters, stopping the 930 passengers trip on board whilst professional divers cleaned the ship off Adelaide’s coast, per Marine Executive.

US based cruise seller Michael Consoli told Travel Weekly (US) that he hadn’t heard of the term biofouling until this season and was caught off guard.

“We quickly had to gather the information about how the cruise line was handling it and what the situation was. We were proactive and making sure that our guests that were on the itinerary knew that it was a one-time disruption — hopefully, a one-time disruption,” he said.

“We all want to make sure that these high standards are maintained now and in [the] future,” Kevin O’Sullivan, chief executive director NZ cruise association said.

“The fouling discovered by  during inspections is minor, but the requirements for cruise ships are very strict.”

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