The discovery of further spread of Undaria pinnatifida (Undaria) in Breaksea Sound, Fiordland has prompted the recommendation of new rules for boaties, which would replace the existing temporary Controlled Area Notice.
Biosecurity and biodiversity operations manager Ali Meade said the joint-agency response team identified that Undaria has spread outside the area currently covered by the controlled area, but still remains contained to Breaksea Sound.
“It is disappointing to see the spread, however it’s very important that we don’t give up, as efforts are still being made to control it.
“We are continuing to work with Biosecurity New Zealand, Department of Conservation and the Fiordland Marine Guardians to come up with a management plan for Undaria.”
Environment Southland has recommended permanent rules in the Proposal for a Southland Regional Pest Management Plan, as a replacement for the Controlled Area Notice, which was put in place in 2017 to try and prevent further human-assisted spread of Undaria.
The rules will place the emphasis on boaties moving in and out of Breaksea Sound to ensure their boats and gear are free from Undaria contamination and support enforcement of anybody found in breach of the rules.
Undaria is an invasive Asian seaweed that was first discovered in New Zealand waters in 1987. During a routine marine biosecurity inspection in early 2010, surveillance staff spotted a single mature Undaria plant growing on a mooring rope in Sunday Cove at Breaksea Sound, Fiordland.
Environment Southland, DOC, and the Ministry for Primary Industries with support from the Fiordland Marine Guardians swiftly launched a joint-agency response and an intensive removal programme was initiated. Unfortunately in 2017, a further outbreak was discovered in Breaksea Sound east of Sunday Cove.
Submissions, including the staff responses, on the Proposal for a Southland Regional Pest Management Plan have been heard by the hearing panel, who will now deliberate before making a recommendation to Council on the final plan.
In the meantime, the Controlled Area Notice remains in place and vessel operators are reminded about the need for vigilance when coming into Fiordland.
“The Fiordland Marine Regional Pathway Management Plan was developed to specifically address reducing the ways pests such as this are getting into Fiordland.”
The plan requires all vessels entering within one nautical mile of the landward boundary of the Fiordland Marine Area to abide by clean vessel, clean gear and residual seawater standards, as well as hold a Clean Vessel Pass.
“We know the damage a marine pest such as Undaria or Mediterranean fanworm could do to the ecology and economy of this area, so we all need to do everything possible to prevent pests making it in. The latest Undaria setback is a crucial reminder of the need for vigilance and how difficult it is to remove pests once they are established.”
Further information on the Fiordland Marine Regional Pathway Management Plan and how you can protect Fiordland can be found at www.es.govt.nz/fmpp.
To find out more about the Proposal for a Southland Regional Pest Management Plan and the staff recommendation for Undaria go to www.haveyoursay.es.govt.nz/pest-plan