It’s encouraging news that New Zealand’s two biggest harbours, the Manukau and Kaipara, were found to be free of new-to-New Zealand pest species, and the Mediterranean Fanworm, in large scale underwater surveys completed in 2019. The surveys highlight the importance of being vigilant whenever we move equipment and boats from the east coast to the west coast.
Mediterranean Fanworm is deeply damaging to our coastlines and has been on the radar of marine scientists since it was first discovered in the South Island over ten years ago. Thousands of individuals can be found in a single square metre and they feed on nutrients and space with native species. It is now well established in a number of east coast North Island harbours, with concerns it will be carried to otherwise pristine locations.
In the Manukau Harbour, the non-indigenous Asian paddle crab Charybdis japonica, nudibranch Okenia pellucida and hydroid Ectopleura crocea were officially detected for the first time.
The Asian Paddle crab is known as an aggressive species that is a strong swimmer and may outcompete native crab species for space and food. It spreads via fouling on vessels, or as larvae in ballast water, where it can live for up to a month.
In the Kaipara Harbour, the non-indigenous colonial tunicates Botrylloides giganteum, Diplosoma listerianum and Eudistoma elongatum, the Australian dog whelk Tritia burchardi and hydroid Ectopleura crocea were officially detected for the first time.
It is recommended that trailer boats, jetskis, canoes, dive gear and fishing gear are washed with freshwater after use and allowed to thoroughly air dry before moving to a new location.
Information and resources for boat owners and operators are available at www.marinepests.nz
About the surveys:
The surveys, which searched both harbours for target marine pests, were the result of a charter agreement between Auckland Council (utilising the Natural Environment Targeted Rate), Northland Regional Council and Biosecurity New Zealand. It is the first charter agreement of its kind between these agencies and enabled efficient management of this multi-agency project.
Baseline surveys for both harbours were carried out in 2006, and since this time over 90 new marine pest species have been discovered in New Zealand.
Following consultation with mana whenua and stakeholders, the surveys were carried out between April and May 2019 by NIWA, with local assistance from Council staff and student volunteers.
The surveys provided information about presence or absence of target (and non-target) marine pest species, which help to inform marine pest management programmes including the Inter-Regional Marine Pest Pathway Management Plan for the Top of the North Councils.
For the results and full reports from the surveys:
Thanks to Covid-19 more Kiwis are turning to their boats for holiday plans, and many haulouts and maintenance providers are already very busy. “Our advice to boaties is to book your contractors first and your haulout space to suit,” says Lucy Goodchap of Tauranga Bridge Marina.
Pictured above: the Westhaven Floating Dock, Marsden Cove Boatyard, and the Bridge Marina Travelift in Tauranga
The Floating Dock at Westhaven says they are dealing with the double whammy of catching up after Auckland’s Level 3 lockdown, and more boaties than usual planning to go boating this summer instead of travelling. The Floating Dock runs an online booking service and says that Thursdays and Fridays before weekend races are especially busy and weekend haulouts are now booked out for the rest of the year – although the Floating Dock is running a waiting list and suggests booking an overnight haulout to avoid disappointment.
In Northland, Marsden Cove Marina’s boatyard is also under the pump. “It would be a wise move to book haulouts and maintenance ahead of time,” says manager Brent Wilson. “Do it sooner rather than later and if you need a boat builder, painter or rigger, start booking them now as the Northland area is already near to capacity.”
Ensuring boats are free of marine pests is critical to our work. Currently each region operates its own rules and requirements. To make this easier for boaties to follow, four of the upper North Island councils, with support from Biosecurity New Zealand, have been working on a New Zealand-first approach to pest management that will provide one clear, standard set of rules for the northernmost regions of the North Island, called the Inter-Regional Marine Pest Pathway Management Plan.
A discussion document was released for informal consultation in 2019, the feedback has been analysed and an options analysis undertaken. We are now working towards understanding the best way forward and we’ll know what that looks like around the middle of 2020.
We will keep you posted.
Councils and agencies behind 'Clean Below? Good to Go' are searching marine structures, boats and shorelines for marine pests. Here is a regional round up of surveillance programmes underway, and findings this season.
In May 2018 New Zealand became the first country in the world to introduce a nationwide standard that sets specific thresholds for biofouling of international vessels. These strict biofouling rules, called the Craft Risk Management Standard for Biofouling (CRMS-BIOFOUL), require that all commercial and recreational vessel operators prove they have managed biofouling on their vessels before they enter New Zealand waters.