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Marine Environment & Fuels

Why New Zealand is hot on biofouling rules but not emissions

New Zealand is lagging behind in its enforcement of air pollution despite being one of the first countries to implement rules against invasive species through biofouling.

The country takes a poor approach to air quality issues. While it is a signatory to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), it has failed to ratify Annex VI, which deals with air emissions rules such as NOx, SOx reductions and the implementation of energy efficiency measures.

It is embarrassing said Dr Bevan Marten, a Senior Lecturer at the School of Law, Victoria University of Wellington who recently wrote a report on his country’s emissions rules.

This approach is in contrast to the majority of countries where air pollution is often a number one priority.  New Zealand has limited emissions monitoring in ports as it has not been viewed as a country with a severe air pollution problem Marten told fathom-news. Better monitoring of visiting foreign vessels to prevent ships using low grade bunker fuel is required, he said.

Reputation is also an issue.  Not having a credible voice on greenhouse gas emissions at the International Maritime Organization is a big concern said Marten who believes Annex VI requires ratification not only to address the pollution problems but also to increase New Zealand’s voice at the international level.

Marten said that he is trying to put pressure on its Minister of Transport.  Annex VI is on the list of potential projects to be investigated but revealed that to the best of his knowledge nothing is currently happening on this issue.

In contrast, New Zealand takes a more serious approach to biosecurity, which requires the protection of regions and populations from the entry and spread of pests and diseases.

Last week the port of Tauranga gave the DL Marigold 24 hours to leave New Zealand waters due to extreme biofouling.  The ship left for Fiji to undergo cleaning, where it was refused entry due to biofouling.

Marten said that unlike air quality, which is very under-funded and under-monitored as it is placed in the hands of cash-strapped local authorities, the MPI fully supports biosecurity measures due to the country’s agricultural economy.

The government has done a lot of work in updating New Zealand’s maritime law to comply with international standards. Biosecurity is one of the most sensitive issues for New Zealand, so it has been taken more seriously than air pollution he told fathom-news.

A new regulation will enter into force in May 2018 that will see any vessel over the allowed biofouling threshold subjected to an MPI vessel inspection and a possible underwater inspection to assess the level of biofouling.

According to the MPI, this means no biofouling aside from a small slime layer.  However, for vessels with a fast turnaround time (less than three weeks) and only visiting official ports of arrival, the biofouling threshold is slightly higher, permitting initial signs of biofouling.

After this date, New Zealand will require ship owners to carry out mitigation measures under their own expenses, such a moving the ship offshore or cleaning the vessel, indicating increased environmental responsibility in this particular area of ship operations.

Image courtesy of Marine Traffic. 

Fathom-News
editor@fathom-mi.com

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