Keeping the pristine waters of Fiordland free from marine pests is the key aim of a Fiordland Marine Pathway Plan proposed by council. The pathway plan is the first of its kind for New Zealand.
Environment Southland councillors today agreed to publicly notify the proposal for a plan on 9 April, giving people the opportunity to read the proposal and make submissions.
Biosecurity manager Richard Bowman said Fiordland’s precious beauty could be put in jeopardy by marine pests, such as seaweeds, fan worms, sea squirts and crabs, which could also have a significant impact on the commercial fisheries and tourism industries that are crucial to the economic wellbeing of the region.
The Pathway Plan is focused on preventing marine pests from reaching Fiordland in the first place, rather than responding after a pest has arrived.
“Trying to manage or remove pests once they are established is extremely challenging and very costly.”
The new plan is designed to work with the existing Regional Pest Management Strategy and establishes clean vessel and gear standards that any vessels, including large commercial boats, small recreational craft and even kayaks, entering Fiordland must meet.
A Clean Vessel Pass is also planned to ensure owners and operators of any boats understand and adhere to the standards. The pass would be specific to a vessel and easy to apply for. Valid for one year, it would be issued after an applicant had provided the required information and declared that they understand the standards.
Developed by a steering group which included Environment Southland, Ministry for Primary Industries, Department of Conservation, Ngāi Tahu and the Fiordland Marine Guardians, the proposed plan is part of a long running programme to protect Fiordland and would apply to all vessels entering the Fiordland Marine Area, including fishing vessels, trailer boats and kayaks.
Cruise ships already operate under a Deed of Agreement, which would be amended to require them to meet the clean vessel standards as well.
A summary document outlining the Proposal for a Fiordland Marine Pathway Plan and the full proposal can be read online at www.es.govt.nz after 9 April or phone 0800 76 88 45 to have a copy sent to you. Submissions can be made online or in writing.