Caulerpa update shows active response

Publish Date : 14 Feb 2024
Caulerpa Up Close Okupu Beach Great Barrier Island Dec 2022 Credit Sid Wales, MPI
Exotic Caulerpa. Photo credit: Sid Wales, MPI

An overview of the exotic Caulerpa response for Aotea / Great Barrier released by Auckland Council this month shows an increase in education, compliance, and monitoring for the unwelcome marine pest.

Caulerpa has the potential to seriously harm and transform our coastal environments, which is why there are surveillance and response efforts for the exotic species.

In November 2023, Biosecurity New Zealand announced changes to update the Controlled Area Notice (CAN) rules on Aotea, allowing anchoring and some types of fishing within certain parts of the CAN boundaries.

Since December there has been a major effort to raise awareness and increase compliance with the rules.

“The report shows the amazing amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to share the knowledge that we already have about exotic Caulerpa and the continuing research into how we can limit its damage to our marine environment,” says Aotea / Great Barrier Local Board chair Izzy Fordham.

“It’s great to see our mana whenua and local community groups taking on roles as part of the response effort, we’re grateful for their involvement.”

A coordinator has been appointed for the ambassador programme, and three kaitiaki ambassadors have been engaged to help spread the word about what locals and visitors can do to help. So far they have approached 907 people on land to have a chat.

There are also three local boat operators providing on-water advocacy, mostly in Port Fitzroy. To date they have approached 162 vessels, including 117 anchored in the no-anchor zone within the CAN area. 78 vessels were provided with printed information resources.

In addition, underwater surveillance is happening to better understand where exotic Caulerpa is (and isn’t) and confirm any new sightings. 

Four trips surveying for exotic Caulerpa have been carried out since November 2023 using a camera on a remotely operated vehicle, targeting different areas.

Unfortunately, Caulerpa has been confirmed in three new locations since November: Medlands Beach, Cape Barrier, and Motuhaku / Wellington Head.

If you spot a marine plant that looks like exotic Caulerpa either washed up on a beach or underwater, please take a photo and report it to Biosecurity New Zealand on 0800 80 99 66 or online at The community’s help is crucial in the response to this marine pest.

Exotic Caulerpa. Photo credit: NIWA

Exotic Caulerpa. Photo credit: NIWA

From the Hauraki Gulf Surveillance Plan to the support Aotea is receiving from the mainland, you can learn more about what’s happening to combat the spread of exotic Caulerpa in the full report here.

Stay up to date

Want to stay up to date with all the latest news from your area?

Sign up for Aotea / Great Barrier Local Board E-news and get monthly updates direct to your inbox.

Back to News