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Vessel operators face biosecurity fines

Biosecurity New Zealand officers will soon be able to fine commercial and recreational vessel operators that don’t play by the rules.

The new offences will come into force on September 2, allowing officers to issue infringement notices to operators that don’t provide notice of a vessel’s arrival in New Zealand.

Vessels that don’t respond to an official request to declare what they have done to comply with risk management requirements will also face a fine, says Biosecurity NZ spokesperson Stu Rawnsley.

"Ultimately, we want masters to supply the required information to us as early as possible. This is to ensure we can target our efforts at vessels that pose the greatest biosecurity risk to New Zealand."

The penalties for the offences are $400 for an individual and $800 for a corporation.

"The fines are aimed at lower-level offences that would have required prosecution to enforce in the past. We still have the option to prosecute if necessary.

"The infringement option gives us an additional tool to encourage vessels to take their biosecurity responsibilities seriously.

"We are also keen to do what we can to encourage voluntary compliance among vessel operators."

The new infringement notices follow the April introduction of similar fines for containment and transitional facilities for actions that could allow invasive pests and diseases into New Zealand.

"We want to send a strong message about the importance of biosecurity across all vessel operators and the entire cargo industry."

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