Cruise Ship Not Allowed Into Milford Sound, New Zealand Due to Snail Contamination

An infestation of snails interrupted a cruise from Australia to New Zealand. The cruise vessel “Coral Princess” was turned away by the Government of New Zealand and has to get its hull and its discharge pipes cleaned before its entry into New Zealand.

The cruise vessel which can accommodate 2000 passengers and is 91,600 gross tons departed on a two-week cruise on December 19th from Brisbane Australia. However, in an unexpected turn of events, a section of the cruise at New Zealand’s Milford Sound along with a port of call at Port Chalmers was canceled.

The cruise line clarified that they would be having the hull cleaned up ahead of their arrival in New Zealand because they were directed by the Ministry for Primary Industries to do so. The concern is that the mollusks on the hull are not native to Milford Sound and sailing there without getting the hull cleaned has the possibility of unintentionally transferring the species to the area. These snails could invade marine areas and could also be carrying dangerous pathogens.

The Ministry of Primary Industries confirmed that the ship was turned away from Milford Sound because of the risk of Biofouling; which is the name for small plants, animals, or microorganisms growing on the ship’s hull. Paul Hallett from Biosecurity NZ, states that this is not unprecedented and in the last three years around 6% of incoming vessels in their ports have been required to have their hull cleaned.

The Coral Princess now lies 77 km off Tauranga, Auckland while the hull is cleaned of snails. The captain of the ship has stated that it can take up to 24 hours to clean snails off the discharge pipes of the ship. Passengers have been offered $106 and 15% off their next cruise with the cruise operator as compensation.

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