A vigilant Fullers360 crew member seized a small (2.5cm) plague skink on a vessel due to depart for Rangitoto Island recently - the sixth recorded plague skink interception since 2016.
The stowaway was spotted, captured and contained. The vessel was taken out of its scheduled sailing and replaced with another vessel so it could be carefully checked to ensure no other pests were on-board.
Fullers360 is Pest Free Warranted and one of the requirements to obtain a warrant is for staff to know what pests to look for and what to do. The actions of staff made a huge difference to ensuring pests don’t move around the Hauraki Gulf.
Over 30 commercial operators are Pest Free Warranted by Auckland Council and Department of Conservation Pest Free Hauraki Gulf campaign to protect the gulf islands. They’re a vital link in the chain to prevent the spread of pests such as Argentine ants, rodents, soil diseases, weed seeds and plague skink.
Operators promote good biosecurity practices and engage with passengers to ensure the requirements are understood and met. In addition, they have pest control processes in place to minimise pests being unwittingly transferred to the Hauraki Gulf Islands.
A list of pest-free commercial and tour operators can be found here
Introduced from Australia, plague skink, (or rainbow skink) are small brown lizards; they’re general predators of a wide variety of invertebrates and common cross Auckland but not on some the Hauraki Gulf Islands. They reproduce quickly and reach maturity faster than native skink and because of their high numbers, out-compete native reptiles, particularly the native copper skink.
This summer, more biosecurity champions will be working the waterfront and Half Moon Bay to support the work of Pest Free Warranted operators; inspectors with their pest detection dogs will also have a presence. Feel free to have a chat so you can find out more about how pests transfer and what you can do to minimize the risk.
And if planning to head out into the gulf, check, clean, and close your gear before you leave home.
If you have a boat, do a visual inspection to make sure there is no sign of pests, chewed wiring, scat etc before leaving home or the marina.