Why you need to check and clean your boat and gear

Courtesy of 'Clean Below? Good to Go'

From berthage to engine maintenance. Safety equipment to navigation. Food, water, and everything in between. If you’ve got a boat, there is a lot to think about before you can cast that line! In recent years we’ve asked you to add one more thing to the list - biosecurity, both terrestrial and marine. 

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Marine biosecurity involves ways to protect the underwater environment from invasive pests and protect the places you fish. A large part of this is asking that all boats, recreational and commercial, check and clean their boats for hitchhiking marine pests.

Why is it so important? Despite our border regulations relating to biofouling, second in the world only to the Galapagos Islands for their rigorousness, marine pests can still make it to our shores. Sometimes by natural means – a process that can take years and requires luck, or sometimes onboard incoming vessels – which can happen in hours or days. 

If they arrive we have to do our absolute best to make sure they don’t spread far and wide. We are trying to avoid situations where invasive pests take over and destroy our way of life. So far we’ve been pretty lucky. But we know from the experiences of places in Australia which have experienced devastating invasions of the Northern Pacific Seastar, that we never know what is around the corner. That is why five councils in the upper North Island, alongside the Department of Conservation and Ministry for Primary Industries are amongst those working so hard on this. 

Likewise, out on the islands in the Hauraki Gulf, Bay of Islands, or further afield, councils and the Department of Conservation doing everything they can to restore biodiversity, to trap and control pests and predators, and to protect our precious Kauri. Imagine if we could go back in time and prevent the spread of weeds like gorse, and pests like rats and mice. We’d do it. For many of these islands, we have a second chance to bring back what was originally there – kiwi, takahe and tuatara. 


  • In summary, so long as your boat is ‘Clean Below’ then you are good to go - for cruising, fishing, racing or anything else. Just make sure you’ve checked the rules at www.marinepests.nz.
  • Just like marine pests can hitchhike on our hulls and underwater fittings, rats, mice, ants and other pests can also travel on our vessels with us when we visit pristine islands and far away places –  conservation islands and other pest free areas.
  • Dogs and cats sailing with us can cause damage when they go ashore. Check the requirements when you plan your voyage and don't take them to island reserves. Visit https://www.doc.govt.nz/pestfree to learn more.
  • Check and clean footwear to remove soil and seeds. This stops diseases and weeds reaching new areas free of these pests.

Get info and all the rules at www.marinepests.nz - marine biosecurity for boaties

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