A dirty ship was ordered to leave Tauranga waters after it was found to be severely contaminated.
In a New Zealand first, the Ministry for Primary Industries ordered the DL Marigold to leave the country within 24 hours on Sunday. The order came after ministry divers found dense clusters of barnacles and tube worms on the bulk carrier's hull and other underwater surfaces.
We were dealing with severe contamination in this case.
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MPI border clearance director Steve Gilbert said the vessel would have to be thoroughly cleaned before it could re-entre New Zealand waters.
"The longer the vessel stayed in New Zealand, the greater chance there was for unwanted marine species to spawn or break away from the ship," he said. "So we had to act quickly."
The DL Marigold arrived in Tauranga from Indonesia on March 4. It had been due to stay in New Zealand waters for 9 days.
The ministry understood the vessel would go to Fiji for cleaning. It would then return to New Zealand to finish discharging a shipment of palm kernel expeller.
"The vessel won't be allowed back until it can provide proof it has been thoroughly cleaned," Mr Gilbert said. "We were dealing with severe contamination in this case."
Mr Gilbert said it was the first time the ministry had ordered an international vessel to leave a New Zealand port for biofouling reasons. As of 11.30am Tuesday, it was off shore from Whangarei.
New rules will require all international vessels to arrive in New Zealand with a clean hull from May 2018.
Until then, the ministry can take action in cases of severe biofouling.
Biofouling is when marine pests and diseases are brought in on vessel hulls. It is considered a threat to New Zealand's marine resources.
Deliberate non-compliance with the new biofouling standards, or negligence leading to non-compliance, can spark inspections or audits in New Zealand.
Owner: Daelim, South Korea
Ship type: Bulk carrier
Gross tonnage: 23,500