Marine Biosecurity

Pest invaders threaten the Marlborough Sounds' coastal environment and our aquaculture industry. To stop any further spread, make sure your boat hull is clean before travelling to to and around the Marlborough Sounds and antifoul your hull once a year.

The main way pests are spread is as hitchhikers on boats.  Fouling species are carried on your hull.  Exotic diseases that infect fish and shellfish can be carried in the hull fouling or in your bilge water or gear.   The Marlborough Region has programmes to reduce risk and combat the main threats.  Rules under the Marlborough District Council Regional Pest Management Plan 2018 mean that vessels entering the Marlborough waters must not have more than light fouling.

The key threat comes from fouling organisms such as the sea squirt (Styela clava) and Mediterranean fanworm (Sabella spallanzanii).  These are established elsewhere in New Zealand and are rapidly finding their way to the Sounds by hitchhiking on the bottom of boats.  An Exclusion programme including Rules has been put in place to stop the spread of Sabella spallanzanii.  This means there should be no more than a light slime layer when your vessel arrives in the Marlborough region, unless:

i) The craft is entering Marlborough for the purpose of a haul out. The haul out must be undertaken within 24 hours of arriving. Proof via receipt from a haul out facility must be provided upon request of an Authorised person, or

ii) The craft is required to enter Marlborough in an emergency relating to the safety of the craft and/or the health and safety of any person on the craft, or

iii) The craft is required to enter Marlborough in response to a declaration of a state of emergency acknowledged by the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management. 

Additionally, Marlborough District Council is using divers to remove Sabella from the Picton Marina where it has been detected on natural substrates.

Unfortunately, Styela clava is now well-established in Picton and Waikawa, and has been found in numerous locations in the Sounds. Council and other agencies are working together to minimise assisted-spread and monitor where it has been detected.  Information on current known Sabella presence is noted on the map information for each bay.

More information can be found at:

If you think you have found a Sabella or any other marine pest, call the MPI Hotline: 0800 80 99 66.