Otago Daily Times

Sneaky snails cause cruise ship to bypass Milford, Dunedin

- HAMISH MACLEAN hamish.maclean@odt.co.nz

STOWAWAY snails discovered on a cruise ship have scuppered the plans of about 2000 visitors heading to Dunedin for a Christmas break.

Coral Princess left Brisbane and was due in Fiordland on Friday before a Christmas Eve visit to Dunedin.

Both stops have been cancelled and instead divers will clean the ship’s hull at sea to rid it of the nonnative molluscs discovered in the ship’s discharge pipes.

Marjorie Walkley, of Auckland, who is a passenger on board, said despite being offered an onboard credit of $100 and a 15% discount on her next cruise, those she had spoken to on the ship were very disappoint­ed.

This was her 15th cruise and it was the first time she had encountere­d any problems.

Along with her husband she was cruising over the holidays to see ‘‘my own country from the coast and especially Fiordland’’.

The Walkleys embarked in Auckland on December 15 and carried on to Brisbane, where the boat departed yesterday.

Mrs Walkley said she did not blame Princess Cruises, which would suffer financiall­y.

Biosecurit­y New Zealand environmen­tal health manager Paul Hallett said staff were working closely with the cruise ship’s operators to help them meet New Zealand’s biofouling requiremen­ts.

The requiremen­ts prevented vessels from bringing exotic species, pests and diseases into the country, Mr Hallett said.

‘‘Vessels are allowed to enter New Zealand if they can show they meet our standards.

‘‘We know that nearly 90% of marine pests arrive in this country on the submerged surfaces of internatio­nal vessels and we have some of the highest biofouling standards in the world.

‘‘The standards were introduced in 2018 and vessel operators know they must meet them or risk not being able to enter our waters or unique areas during their journey.’’

A total of 6121 internatio­nal vessels arrived in New Zealand from January 1, 2020, to September this year.

Of these, 6% (377) were issued a notice of direction to address biofouling issues, he said.

Highrisk organisms associated with biofouling included bivalves, such as mussels and oysters, foliose algae, hydroids, tunicates, sponges, and mobile organisms, such as crabs and starfish, he said.

A Princess Cruises spokeswoma­n said the additional hull cleaning ahead of Coral Princess’s arrival in New Zealand was a measure to remove the exotic molluscs so there was no unintended transfer in the particular­ly sensitive areas of New Zealand the ship was visiting.

While present circumstan­ces were rare, they did occur from time to time and despite changes to the itinerary, service and activities on board remained the same, the spokeswoma­n said.

‘‘In lieu of travelling to Fiordland and Dunedin, guests will now spend an a few extra days at sea before spending Christmas in Christchur­ch as scheduled.

‘‘Coral Princess will still visit scheduled destinatio­ns, including Wellington, Napier, Tauranga and Auckland.

‘‘We thank our guests for their understand­ing and look forward to celebratin­g Christmas in Christchur­ch.’’


 ?? PHOTO: SUPPLIED ?? Nottobe... Coral Princess was due to visit Fiordland and Dunedin this week, but snails mean those visits have been cancelled.
PHOTO: SUPPLIED Nottobe... Coral Princess was due to visit Fiordland and Dunedin this week, but snails mean those visits have been cancelled.

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