WELLINGTON, March 7 (Xinhua) -- A Panama-flagged bulk carrier has become the first foreign ship ordered to leave New Zealand waters because it was dirty, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said Tuesday.
The DL Marigold was ordered on Sunday to leave the eastern North Island port of Tauranga within 24 hours and to stay away until it was thoroughly cleaned, said MPI border clearance director Steve Gilbert.
The order followed the discovery by MPI divers of dense fouling of barnacles and tube worms on the bulk carrier's hull and other underwater surfaces.
"The longer the vessel stayed in New Zealand, the greater chance there was for unwanted marine species to spawn or break away from the ship. So we had to act quickly," Gilbert said in a statement.
The DL Marigold had arrived from Indonesia on March 4 and had been due to stay in New Zealand waters for nine days.
It was understood the ship would go to Fiji for cleaning before returning to New Zealand to finish discharging a shipment of palm kernel expeller.
"The vessel won't be allowed back until it can provide proof it has been thoroughly cleaned," said Gilbert.
It was the first time MPI had ordered an international vessel to leave a New Zealand port for "biofouling reasons."
"We were dealing with severe contamination in this case," he said.
New rules would require all international vessels to arrive in New Zealand with a clean hull from May 2018, but MPI could take action in cases of severe biofouling during the interim.