A citizen science project has captured the curiosity of young Kiwis and is emerging as a potentially powerful marine biosecurity tool.
Marine Metre Squared – or Mm2 – encourages communities to explore what is living on their local shore and get involved in long-term monitoring by observing and recording changes on their coastlines. Mm2 is be a useful way for communities to investigate issues of local concern that may impact local biodiversity – such as the establishment of pest species. By having many eyes (and hands) searching along the coast, everyone can be on the lookout for unusual looking things, report them to their local government and aid in protecting Aotearoa’s unique coastline.
Anyone interested in learning more about the Mm2 programme is invited to visit the website here
Please add these species to your list of species to look out for:
The sea squirt Clavelina is emerging as a concern and we are working to understand more about how it may impact our coastlines. Clavelina forms large colonies on hard surfaces (including marinas and rocky shores) and also attaches to boat hulls and there is a high chance it will have the edge over native species when it comes to competing for food and space.
The sea squirt Clavelina lepadiformis has been found in several locations and is emerging as a concern because of its ability to quickly form large colonies. Clavelina oblonga is only know to be present at one site in Aotearoa; Smokehouse Bay at Aotea Great Barrier Island.
Clavelina lepadiformis is distinctive: it is called a ‘lightbulb tunicate’ because with its transparent tubes and white, yellow or pink bands, it can look like a glowing light bulb. It was recently found in Gulf Harbour and has been observed on a number of vessel hulls in regions outside of the known established populations – giving rise to concerns that it may be spread by moving vessels.
Download the Clavelina Fact Sheet here
Photo credits: Clavelina lepadiformis (c) S Happy, Auckland Council. Clavelina oblonga (c) C Woods, NIWA
The Bay of Plenty Regional Pest Management Plan 2020 – 2030 became operative in December 2020 and contains new rules to protect the region’s marine environment.
Rule 1 - The occupier in charge of a craft moving to, or within Bay of Plenty waters must ensure the hull is sufficiently cleaned and antifouled, so that the hull has no more than a slime layer and/or barnacles.
Rule 2 - All aquaculture equipment (including ropes and floats) used within Bay of Plenty waters must not have been used outside Bay of Plenty waters or used within a known pest incursion zone in the Bay of Plenty.
By directly targeting the movement of vessels and the marine industry equipment, the rules ensure that craft owners and the marine industry take responsibility for helping to stop the spread of marine pests.
Read the Regional Pest Management Plan
In a pivotal move for marine biosecurity in the Auckland Region, marine pests are now listed in Auckland’s Regional Pest Management Plan. This extends effective biosecurity protection from the land into the sea, providing vital protection to the Hauraki Gulf and its islands.
Auckland Council is introducing new rules from the Regional Pest Management Plan 2020-2030 (RPMP) that cover the entire Auckland region, and also regulations that affect those who live and visit the Hauraki Gulf and islands given effect by the Hauraki Gulf Controlled Area Notice. Through a phase in process, Auckland Council will assist commercial operators, private users and landowners within the Hauraki Gulf in understanding and complying with the rules over the next few years.
Important points from the new RPMP are:
Find out more about the Auckland Council’s approach to pest management and how you can help
Locally, regionally and nationally, the quest to prevent the spread of marine pests continues. Consultation in 2019 showed widespread support for more action to control marine pests and demand for a simple and consistent approach that is easier to understand and implement across regions. Northland Regional Council, Auckland Council, Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Waikato Regional Council, with support from the Ministry for Primary Industries and Department of Conservation, are progressing work to create an inter-regional approach that will reduce the spread of marine pests on vessels.
We now expect that formal consultation will take place in the second half of 2021, and we will keep you posted as it gets closer. Our colleagues at MPI are also working with industry to develop best practice guidance for hull cleaning and antifouling.
Dylan Lease, manager at Tutukaka at Northland, is proud that his marina is pristine. A former ‘Best Environmental Performer’ winner at the New Zealand Marina Awards, the marina is known for going the extra mile when it comes to minimising the impact of its operations.
Therefore he is diligent about ensuring that all vessels entering the marina are free of marine pests – even the working barges travelling to are required to be cleaned and checked before they enter the marina, and to meet Northland Regional Council’s rules too.
“We are so proud that we have kept Mediterranean fanworm out of Tutukaka Marina for this long. It has been a battle and commercial boats must follow the same clean hull requirements as recreational boats do,” says Dylan.
Divers from Northland to Gisborne are checking for marine pests this summer in order to prevent the spread of marine pests. An underwater survey the waters around Aotea Great Barrier Island (pictured below) has just been completed.
Late in 2019 we interviewed Grant Brown from Sandspit Marina about his quest to keep the marina, built in 2016, free of Mediterranean Fanworm.
“I was proud of the fact we were fanworm free,” he says. “We were totally focused on monitoring and eradicating fanworm, but time and conditions have beaten us, and it is now living in the seabed here at Sandspit Marina.”
“In the early days, I was conscious of what was going on in Kawau, especially Bon Accord Harbour, which was infested. We felt this meant it was only a matter of time before it found its way here - whether by boat or of its own natural accord,” he says.
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.”