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Article: The CRMS – New Zealand's anti-biofouling measure

News & Insights 9 January 2019

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Approximately 87% of New Zealand’s non-indigenous marine species were introduced through biofouling by international vessels, with substantial negative impact on New Zealand’s economy and environment. However, options for managing biofouling within New Zealand territory are limited. This article discusses options available to ships calling at New Zealand.

Biofouling is the growth of aquatic organisms on a vessel’s hull. These organisms will accumulate on the hull and reproduce, competing with and endangering the local marine fauna. This is one of the most common ways by which marine species can migrate. It is estimated that approximately 87% of New Zealand’s non-indigenous marine species were introduced through biofouling by international vessels. The uncontrolled migration of foreign marine species can have substantial negative impact on New Zealand’s economy and environment.

The Craft Risk Management Standard (CRMS)
Since 15 May 2018, compliance with the ‘Craft Risk Management Standard’ (CRMS), has been made mandatory for the operator of any vessel scheduled to anchor, berth, or be brought ashore in New Zealand following a voyage originating outside of New Zealand’s territorial waters.

The CRMS is a national industry standard, issued pursuant to the Biosecurity Act 1993, which permits New Zealand’s Director-General for Primary Industries to issue such standards for vessels calling at New Zealand’s ports. It is designed to reduce the economic and environmental impact of biofouling on the local marine environment and is administered by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). The objective of the CRMS is to ensure that vessels arrive at New Zealand ports with a clean hull and free of biofouling organisms. A hull is ‘clean’ when it complies with the stipulated thresholds, failing which the vessel may be ordered to leave New Zealand’s territorial waters.

The precise applicable threshold of cleanliness depends on the length of a vessel’s stay. The CRMS provides for several categories of length of stay For example, commercial vessels are likely to fall under the short stay category. This category consists of vessels which remain in New Zealand ports for up to 20 days and visit only approved ports (the country’s main ports).

Compliance with CRMS for commercial vessels
To satisfy the clean hull requirements set out in CRMS, short stay vessels are permitted to have a slime layer and gooseneck barnacles on their hulls, in addition to small amounts of algal growth (growth not exceeding 1% coverage of the vessel’s hull and 5% of the vessel’s niche areas).

Operators are required to demonstrate continual maintenance of the vessel’s hull, using operational best practice. To that end, operators must submit various documents to the MPI at least 48 hours before entering New Zealand territorial waters evidencing the steps taken to manage biofouling prior to the vessel’s arrival. These include the following:

  1. Antifouling certificates
  2. Reports from a recent hill and niche area inspection, with photos
  3. Reports from the most recent cleaning of the hull and niche areas, with photos
  4. Records of contingency planning
  5. The vessel’s Biofouling Management Plan, and Biofouling Record Book

To demonstrate adherence to best practices, CRMS specifies three acceptable management options available to vessel operators:

  1. clean the hull within 30 days prior to arriving in New Zealand territorial waters
  2. conduct continual hull maintenance using best practice principles, (eg IMO biofouling guidelines)
  3. conduct hull treatment using an MPI-approved provider within 24 hours of arriving into New Zealand territory.

Unfortunately, there are not currently any haul out docks for large vessels or approved treatments, so the third option is not practically available at time of writing.

Before arriving at a New Zealand port, the operator must submit verifiable evidence to the MPI that one of these options has been undertaken. The MPI will review the records/evidence provided to determine whether best practice principles have been complied with, and a vessel complies with the CRMS.


Failure to comply with CRMS
If the vessel fails to comply with the thresholds for hull cleanliness, it is likely MPI will direct the vessel to leave New Zealand territorial waters for hull cleaning. If there is heavy biofouling the vessel may be directed to leave immediately. If there is moderate biofouling the vessel itinerary may be reduced.

Unfortunately, as mentioned above, options for managing biofouling within New Zealand territory are limited. The possibility of hauling out and cleaning a vessel is not available for large commercial cargo or cruise ships, as the country does not have facilities available to accommodate their size. In-water hull cleaning is not permitted within New Zealand territorial waters so the vessel will have to leave New Zealand territorial waters for in-water hull cleaning.

This could result in delays to the vessel, and possible charter-party disputes, as the vessel will have to sail to a facility outside of New Zealand before it can perform its scheduled loading or discharging operations.

Given the limited cleaning options in New Zealand, members should remain vigilant and be proactive to manage and minimise biofouling prior to calling New Zealand. Masters and operators should maintain an up-to-date record of the vessel’s maintenance and/or adequate verifiable evidence that the vessel’s hull has been cleaned within 30 days prior to her arrival in New Zealand in accordance with best practice principles.

Members are also recommended to observe the IMO guidelines for biofouling management for commercial and recreational vessels  as the MPI considers them good examples of best practice standards for biofouling management. 

Apart from complying with biofouling regulations, proper hull maintenance enables the vessel to achieve optimal fuel consumption thus helping to keep the costs of operation efficient.

Members are also encouraged to review their charterparties to ensure that there is no ambiguity as to which party is to bear the risk for delays and losses arising from enforcement measures taken against the vessel under anti biofouling measures such as the CRMS. In this regard the members may wish to consider adapting the BIMCO Hull Fouling Clause.

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