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Biosecurity NZ checks Coastal Classic Yachts

18 October 2005

Biosecurity New Zealand checks Coastal Classic Yachts

Biosecurity New Zealand is taking action to ensure yachts leaving Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour as part of this weekend’s HSBC Coastal Classic yacht race are free of the invasive seasquirt, the clubbed tunicate.

More than 230 yachts are expected to set out on the annual event from the Waitemata Harbour to Russell in the Bay of Islands this Friday 21 October. A number of these vessels are expected to remain in the Bay of Islands for the summer.

Biosecurity New Zealand’s Senior Marine Advisor Brendan Gould says it’s important to establish the yachts are clean before they leave Auckland, to ensure the seasquirt is not spread from the Waitemata area where its presence has been confirmed.

An operation is underway to contact all yachties registered for the race and speak to them about the cleanliness of their hulls. It is known that the clubbed tunicate is most easily spread on heavily contaminated hulls.

Mr Gould says Biosecurity New Zealand is asking all race entrants a few questions to establish the condition of their vessel’s hull.

“Vessels that we class as high-risk on the basis of those questions will be inspected by divers.

“Boats that have received anti-fouling paint in the past nine months, or have been physically cleaned in the last two weeks will not require inspection,” Mr Gould says.

Biosecurity New Zealand says where possible, fouling will be removed by divers following any inspection.

Mr Gould says that given these boats are racing yachts, it’s unlikely many will be heavily fouled.

“Competitive yachties are usually very aware of boat cleanliness and they won’t want heavy fouling increasing their drag,” Mr Gould says.

Biosecurity New Zealand says the race organisers have been very supportive in this exercise.

“They have provided us with a full list of phone numbers and email addresses of all entrants so that we can make contact.”

However, Mr Gould says it’s important that if any yachties registered in the race don’t hear from Biosecurity New Zealand, they contact the agency through its 0800 number: 0800 80 99 66.

Biosecurity New Zealand is also urging other members of the yachting and boating fraternity to inspect their boats.

“We’re aware that this weekend is the informal start to the summer boating season and it’s really important that boaties ensure their boats are clean. The invasive seasquirt, the clubbed tunicate, needs a dirty boat to hang onto, and if hulls are kept clean, the seasquirt won’t be transferred.

ENDS

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