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  1. mcp

    NRC on fan worm

    I had a call from NRC [Northland Regional Coucil] on Friday about my boat. They had conducted a dive on all the boats on the mooring field in the area [just off Onerahi] and my boat is classified as a 5 out of a maximum of 5 for growth. It was antifouled about 13 months ago with Altex NO.5, there is minimal slime on the water line. I am out at the boat twice a weekend at least every second if not every weekend weather permitting. I have only given the water line a scrap once. There are a lot of barnacles on her and its planned for her some come out late next autumn. Anyway, I wrote bullet point notes during the conversation and below is not word for word, but is pretty close. The message is accurate. The lovely lady I was talking to also told me there was fan worm detected on my hull. I was initially thinking here we Fk*$G go... Me: Serious?? Lovely Lady: Yes Me: So what needs to happen? Lovely Lady: They need to be removed by a certified haul out yard. Within the next three months Me: Errr....can I clean them off? Lovely Lady: No sorry! BUT! We are doing a training program with boaters [i forget the name of it] That we will teach you how to clean and dispose of fan worm off your boat and certify you to do so. Me: When can I do this course? I am really pleased there is a sensible solution to all this! Lovely Lady: We haven't currently got any future dates for these courses as of yet, but I will put your details down for the next one in your area. Me: Thanks! But, just out of interest are you able to tell me anyone who lives locally that has done this course that might be able to clean my boat? Lovely Lady: We haven't done a course in your area yet. Me: Oh. Lovely Lady: We are still working on them and should have them available soon. Me: Ok, and now I think, I need to let you know my dilemma and I know this is not really a problem of yours or really a concern, but I would appreciate some guidance. Currently, my motor is out of commission and getting a haul out after Christmas is going to be a massive challenge also. I am happy to do the course and self clean. Lovely Lady: Oh, that's no problem, just call me and we can extend your notice to clean your hull if you can't have it done. Me: Okay thanks. That's a relief! So out of interest, did they take pictures on my hull and how much fan worm is on it? Lovely Lady: They found three very small specimens on the bottom of the keel. Umm...just looking through the divers' notes now and they only have a picture of the boat, none of the fouling. Me: Ooookay. Could your divers just not scrap them off if it was not that bad? You are going to teach us boaters how to do this after all and it would be a great service to a ratepayer like myself that picks up the tab for those that are not. Lovely Lady: Sorry, sometimes they do and sometimes they don't, it is up to the judgement of the divers who are checking the boats at the time. Me: Okay. So I am not going anywhere soon in my boat as my motor is waiting for parts and me to fit them. You want me to haul out and I will around June anyway. Can I ask you a few general questions? Lovely lady: Yes, sure. Me: How is NRC monitoring the movement of yachts? Let's just say I drop my mooring and sail off to Great Barrier Island for the weekend? How would you monitor a boater with this mindset? Lovely lady: We can't, but we try. We have our boat in the water weekly and our staff on land take notes when in certain locals. Me: What is the end game here with the fan worm, eradication? Lovely lady: At this stage in Whangarei harbour it is about management. We tried to eradicate it in Marsden Cove Marina and we couldn't remove it as fast as it would repopulate. So Whangarei Harbour as is Auckland and Tauranga are infested and are now managed areas. What the current brief is we need to stop the spread of it as much as we can. We don't want an infested boat leaving Whangarei Harbour and going to the Great Barrier as you mention or the Poor Knights and contaminating the ecosystems there. Me: So eradication is not the goal? Lovely Lady: No, it is past that point with the budget we have in local government. We did try earlier on. Me: So if I get Certification to leave the Harbour from a Certified haulout yard or via your course, that I will attend once it has become available, I can travel unimpeded to Auckland and Tauranga where they have infestations also? Lovely Lady: The certification only relates to leaving Whangarei harbour. Auckland and Tauranga as far as we are aware do not have a similar requirement in place. We have actively been trying to get a mandate from MPI to make movement control from currently affected areas a restricted activity, but despite constant asking for guidence, central government is moving too slowly and we are pushing on and aim to limit the spread of Mediterranean fan worm as much as it is practical to do so. Me: Great answer, thanks. So boats from Auckland can travel to the Great Barrier and spread their fan worm? Or the poor knights? Lovely Lady: Yes, we would hope to intercept the boats heading to NRC jurisdiction like Poor Knights and check their hulls. Me: And from Tauranga. Lovely Lady: Yes, I believe they can. Me: Sorry, I don't want to seem like I am having a go at you, as I am sure you have answered these questions with other boat owners you have called. But can I ask you a few more general questions? Lovely Lady; Sure, I will try my best to answer as best I can. Me: So, the fuel tankers that berth at Marsden point and travel around a number of very important ports in New Zealand. Lovely Lady: Haha, yes...I have had this question a number of times already. This is a major concern of ours, as when they are empty they need ballast water. Unfortunately, it is very hard to change the ways of commercial outfits. But we are trying! And.....before you ask in your next question about them spreading the fan worm, they only stop at the main harbours that are known to be contaminated. Me: Okay, fair call. Do they contribute to the solution, since they are part of the problem of never being able to eradicate the fan worm from these harbours? Lovely Lady; No, this is why we are seeking a nationwide mandate. Me; What about international, non commercial boats? Lovely Lady; Immigration and MPI will notify NRC and we inspect every incoming boat that cannot provide evidence of hull cleaning within 30days of arrival, drydocking or hull maintenance, photographs of a clean hull before reaching New Zealand waters, Biofouling and pest management plan. So all incoming vessels to Opua or Marsden point will be inspected if no proof of the current Biosecurity requirements can be met. Me: Could an incoming vessel to Marsden Point Marina be clear on arrival and after two weeks in the marina leave to the poor knights take fan worm with it on its hull? Lovely Lady; *sigh* Hopefully not, the science isn't actually there currently for New Zealand conditions to answer this question. We are hoping MPI have something as soon as possible for us, as Northlands conditions are likely the most favourable for the spread of most introduced marine pests. The breeding cycle is not known in New Zealand conditions currently, and we wish that we had some concrete evidence to base our decisions off, for the actions we are currently taking, because we are bullied by boaters daily about this. We will be the worst affected, of any area because on the average mean temperatures of northland waters. We are also the most visited waters in New Zealand by boats. Me: really? Lovely Lady; Yes, More commercial boat do go to the other main ports, we have mainly fuel and crude tankers. There are a few ships taking logs offshore also. But more boats hit the water in Northland or travel to Northland from within New Zealand or Internationally by a large margin, than any other area of New Zealand. This is why we want to restrict the problem as much as we can with the powers available to us, because if a solution is made available from central government or another avenue like we are hoping there will be much less damage done. Me: What do you mean by another avenue? Lovely Lady; Altex Coatings are currently hard at work trying to find an antifouling solution and there are a couple of other things being researched that I can not share currently. Me; Well clearly the Altex NO.5 on my boat isn't working currently to reduce the fan worm. Lovely Lady; Or the barnacles. The diver mentions there were a lot of barnacles on the notes. Me; Did he mention if there was much fouling on the prop? Lovely lady; She...Is not required to be that specific in her notes. Me; Oh...fair enough. So if there is no directive from the central government soon or in the next year or so, will the rules change? Lovely lady; I really can't answer that questions at this stage, a decision will be made in time or hopefully when we have a directive. Me; Obviously you have been calling other boaters like myself. What has been the feedback from other boaters so far? Lovely Lady; Haha, most have asked us similar questions to what you have. Me: Ha, that's why you have been so fast with an answer!! haha. Lovely Lady; Of course! At least you haven't yelled at me or been rude like most have. Me; Well, its quite confronting when you make a call to us as you have and we read information online and opinions in forums about what is happening, but with no information on why it is happening from the authorities. Lovely Lady; We know, the more information we can access the more we can relay and the better we can make decisions and answer questions. We are stuck being where the finger will be pointed, no matter what side of the argument we are on. We are desperate for a mandate from MPI and/or central government and some the science to back it up or not. Currently, we have to minimise the spread of this pest as best as we can manage. Me; Thanks for answering my questions and can you extend my notice to June at least, for the boat to be cleaned. Lovely Lady; Mmmmm, what I will do is, I will call you in three months to double check, before putting an extension on your boat. Me: Thanks for your time. Lovely lady; No problem and thanks for being polite during our discussions. Me; No problem. Bye. I think my discussion was quite interesting and there are a few fair points that were made by the lovely lady from NRC. She is the messenger and did an excellent job explaining their point of view.
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