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1 November 2005
Biosecurity New Zealand's extended surveillance for the sea squirt the
clubbed tunicate begins this week, with divers searching Northland waters.
The sea squirt has to date been confirmed in parts of Auckland's Hauraki Gulf
and in Lyttelton Port.
Now Biosecurity New Zealand needs to know if there are other infected
locations around New Zealand to help plan any future action.
Senior Marine Adviser Brendan Gould says surveying so far indicates the
organism has been in the country for some years and may have spread to areas
outside the Hauraki Gulf and Lyttelton.
The National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) has helped
design the national surveillance programme and is undertaking the surveillance
work for Biosecurity New Zealand. It is focusing on sites considered to be at
high risk of spread due to their proximity to known infestations, or that have a
high volume of inward vessel movements. (See footnote for locations).
Along with the surveillance, Biosecurity New Zealand is asking members of the
public, especially marine users, to keep an eye out for the clubbed tunicate sea
squirt and report any suspected finds to its free 0800 number (0800 80 99 66).
Awareness material about the sea squirt is being spread through media and a
variety of media channels used by boaties, aquaculture industry and divers.
And Biosecurity New Zealand is also embarking on further studies looking at
possible control and treatment options for the pest.
Research will look into a range of control measures which include wrapping
infected structures with plastic, injecting acetic acid into the wrap and
dipping in acetic acid for equipment.
While this wider picture of the sea squirt's presence and treatment options
is compiled, Biosecurity New Zealand is also asking for help from all marine
users to prevent the spread of the creature.
"It's really important that boaties come on board with the effort to curb its
spread. Marine users must now take responsibility for keeping their vessel hulls
and equipment clean and free of fouling," Mr Gould says.
Biosecurity New Zealand says where people are preparing to move to another
region, they should ensure the hull of their vessel is clean. "We're asking
people to check their hull before setting sail and where it is heavily fouled,
to clean it where it is," Mr Gould says.
It is known that regular cleaning and the use of anti-fouling treatment will
greatly help contain the spread of the sea squirt. The organism prefers a dirty
boat to hang onto and if hulls and equipment are clean, the sea squirt is
unlikely to be transferred.
Preliminary start dates and locations for initial surveillance are:
Whangarei: Basin Marina, Marsden Point Port over next week (starting today)
Akaroa - Wednesday 2 November Lyttleton – Thursday 3 November Greymouth -
Wednesday 9 November
There will be surveillance scheduled in the near future for the following
areas identified as high-risk due to proximity to known infestations or vessel
These are: Bay of Islands (Opua) Mangawhai Harbour Tutukaka Nelson Port
Wellington Port Picton Marina Havelock Marina Bluff Greymouth Dunedin Port
Napier Port New Plymouth Whakatane Port Whitianga Marina Tauranga Port
Photo opportunities can be arranged through Biosecurity New Zealand
communications – see numbers below. The teams working on the surveillance will
not be free for interviews and any information about the work and the results
will come from Biosecurity New Zealand.
Further information about the clubbed tunicate is also available on the
Biosecurity New Zealand website:
For further information, please contact: Lesley Patston, Senior
Communications Adviser, Ph. 027 205-1418 Or Phillip Barclay, Senior
Communications Adviser, Ph. 027 229-9145