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Chemicals and their risk to the marine environment

A wide variety of chemicals and other noxious liquid substances are shipped to, from and around New Zealand. Release of these chemicals into the marine environment could have serious effects.

Hazardous substances include foodstuffs like vegetable oils, by-products like tallow, and synthetic chemical raw materials (feedstocks) used for industrial processes.

Noxious liquid substances are traded in significant quantities worldwide, and the conditions of their carriage are governed by MARPOL 73/78 (the International Convention on Prevention of Pollution from Ships).

Within the 12 mile limit, there are no permitted discharges of noxious liquid substances from ships carrying these substances in bulk as cargo.

The Resource Management Act 1991 regulations cover discharges in the coastal marine area while the Maritime Transport Act and associated rules regulate discharges outside of the territorial sea. The marine protection rules also cover ship types allowed to carry various cargoes, the packaging and signage required, shipboard records and emergency preparedness.


Antifouling paint

  • Antifouling paints are applied to the hulls of boats and any other marine structure. They prevent the build-up of unwanted organisms (bio-foul) that can affect a vessel’s efficiency and integrity. They are also a key biosecurity tool in preventing indigenous and non-indigenous species being transported in New Zealand waters.
  • Antifouling paints are toxic to the aquatic environment and have properties that are harmful to human health and there are rules you must follow when using them.
  • Antifouling paints approved for manufacture or importation into New Zealand have been reassessed. Some products continue to be approved indefinitely or for a limited time, and some have been declined. There are new rules about how the paint is manufactured and imported.
  • There are also new rules about applying new antifouling paint or disposing of old paint.
  • Always read the product label before using antifouling paint. It will tell you the precautions you must take when handling the product and how to dispose of it safely.
  • To protect your health, you must wear the right safety gear (personal protective equipment) to avoid getting paint on skin or breathing in vapours.
  • You must set up a controlled work area and post signs when applying antifouling paint and must prevent overspray.
  • Antifouling paint waste must be disposed of appropriately (including old paint removed from boats, used paint cans, rollers, trays, gloves and coveralls).
  • Old antifouling paint removed from boats can still be toxic to people and the environment. When you are scraping, sanding or removing paint from your boat, you must collect your paint waste and properly dispose of it.