More scrutiny for unaccredited cruise ships
Unaccredited cruise ships will face additional scrutiny from Biosecurity New Zealand this coming season – including more port inspections as they travel around the country and more dog teams sniffing passengers on the gangway.
The accreditation scheme has worked well since its introduction in 2016, and the aim is to have it adopted by all arriving cruise vessels. The cruise industry has largely embraced the scheme, which involves stocking vessels with approved stores and being very proactive in educating passengers about New Zealand’s biosecurity rules. During the last season (which finished in May), only 4% of arriving vessels were unaccredited.
Unaccredited vessels that wish to avoid possible delays for disembarking passengers have the option of becoming a quarantine exempt vessel, which entails surrendering all stores to Biosecurity New Zealand officers at the first port of arrival and replenishing with approved food. This option is only feasible for smaller vessels that don’t carry much food - two cruise lines have elected this option for the coming season.
Cruise ship accreditation at a glance
· Biosecurity New Zealand adopted the accreditation programme for cruise vessels following a successful trial in the 2016/17 season.
· The scheme gives confidence that passengers from accredited vessels pose very low biosecurity risk.
· Fresh produce and other food items aboard the vessels are vetted to ensure they meet strict biosecurity standards (like imported produce available in New Zealand supermarkets).
· Vessels are also expected to provide biosecurity education to passengers before landing in New Zealand.
· The programme has improved biosecurity – the seizure rate is lower for accredited vessels compared with unaccredited vessels.