The Hauraki Gulf is a maritime playground for Aucklanders.
With 50 islands to explore it’s not always a space we treat with respect. But it is a space Aucklanders are keen to protect from pests threatening our native species and ecosystems on the islands.
That’s why Auckland Council is investing money raised from the Natural Environment Targeted Rate (NETR) into doing exactly that.
The number of biosecurity paws on the ground and bodies on the wharves have increased in the hope fewer pests attempting to make their way to the islands will be missed.
To support the Pest Free Warrant programme that has been in place since 2011, an educational toolkit has been compiled for transport operators and their staff to ensure good biosecurity practices are followed on their boats and at their mainland bases.
The program has already proven successful.
In April, used potting mix headed to a school on Aotea Great Barrier was intercepted by a biosecurity inspector and detector dog.
The mix came from an area where there is a known plague skink population; the detector dog indicated the presence of plague skinks and the mix was successfully prevented from departing to the island.
Senior Regional Biosecurity Advisor Liz Brooks says, “Our waters and islands are central to Auckland’s identity; it’s the equivalent to having a national park right in the heart of the city.
"Thanks to NETR we are better able to protect the islands which are arks for some of New Zealand’s most threatened species. Pest cost us a lot to remove, so prevention is by far the best remedy. We all need to do our bit to keep this playground pristine.”