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Workshops to prevent pests in Great Barrier's waters

Published: 16 May 2019

New workshops on Great Barrier will help the community stop the spread of marine pests and maintain the integrity of the marine environment.

The marine biosecurity team is working to prevent the introduction and spread of marine pests around Aotea, and there is a lot that boaties and others can do to help.

The coming workshops will be held on-island and provide an opportunity to ask questions and give feedback on the feasibility for an on-island cleaning and maintenance facility.

Those interested can also give their feedback to the current consultation: ‘Better ways to stop marine pests?’ which will be open until May 24.

Local marine pests

In March 2017, Mediterranean fanworm, an unwanted organism, was found on a pontoon at Port Fitzroy.

Great Barrier is still relatively free of marine pests, but that situation highlighted the need for a surveillance program.

Auckland Council senior marine biosecurity advisor Samantha Happy has led the response to the Mediterranean fanworm, including dive and snorkel operations.

The Bay of Plenty Toi Moana dive team have been doing the dive surveillance and support has been provided by the Ministry of Primary Industries, who are also working with mussel farmers to safeguard Aotea and the farms against marine pest introduction.

Local community and Auckland Council staff members have also provided invaluable support to the surveillance.

Small pockets of fanworm have all been carefully controlled by diver removal and appropriately disposed of on land.

No baby fanworm were found during the May 2019 surveillance, which is an encouraging sign that there are no known established populations of fanworm on the island.

Boaties found to have the fanworm on their hulls have been mostly willing to voluntarily fix the issue and get their hulls cleaned on the mainland.

“There is still a lot of work to do in the marine biosecurity space and preventing the introduction and spread of pests is key to the ongoing success in protecting Aotea’s marine environment,” Happy said.

She said it was not just Mediterranean fanworm that was a potential issue.

“There are, and will be, other pests on the horizon that could cause a lot of damage to our marine environment.”

Prevention is key to stopping marine pests becoming established. Boaties need to clean boat hulls and equipment before moving to a new body of water, to prevent the spread of pests. 

In-water cleaning should be avoided and the Unitary Plan hull biofouling and passive discharge rules must be followed.

Workshop Details

Sat 15 June, 10am-12pm,  Claris Sports Club

Sat 15 June, 1pm-3pm, Tryphena Community Hall

Sun 16 June, 10am-12pm, Fitzroy


Q: Is Mediterranean fanworm on the barrier?

A: Individuals and small pockets of fanworm have been picked up by Auckland Council marine pest surveillance. These have all been controlled by removal and disposal on land. No new recruits (baby fanworm) were found during the May 2019 surveillance.

Q: Where is Mediterranean fanworm established in New Zealand?

A: It is currently deemed established in the Waitematā Harbour and inner Hauraki Gulf, and in both the Whangarei and Coromandel Harbours.

Q: What does this mean if boats go between those areas and Aotea?

A: This means that there is a high risk of any boats visiting those areas becoming infested with pests and hitchhiking back to the island.  They may not be big enough to see with the naked eye, and grow once back at the barrier. It is safe to assume that if something has sat in the water in those named areas, they will be infested and need an appropriate clean before moving to other areas including the barrier. This can happen in a very short space of time, even hours.

Q: If a boat has a build-up of growth on its hull and has come from other areas, can it be cleaned in the water?

A: No. In-water cleaning is very high risk and will cause the spread of marine pests which can re-attach to natural and artificial substrates, and also regenerate from any fragment. The Unitary Plan hull biofouling rules stipulate what can be cleaned in-water where. Refer to the guidance document ‘Navigating the rules’. Copies of the guidance document are also available from the Claris Service Center.


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