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12 October 2005
Work surveying the extent of the clubbed tunicate sea squirt in Auckland's
Viaduct Harbour will begin tomorrow (Thursday 13 October 2005).
The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) has been
contracted to undertake the extensive survey, and divers will be on site from
Biosecurity New Zealand Senior Marine Advisor Brendan Gould says NIWA will
also examine Freemans Bay and, if necessary, the wider Waitemata Harbour. The
survey should take a month, but it is anticipated that information will be
Biosecurity New Zealand is also arranging a similar survey of the Lyttelton
"It is vital that the surveys are undertaken as a full picture of the spread
of the incursion is necessary before any decisions are made about future
action," Mr Gould says.
"Potential treatment options will be investigated once it has been
established just how widespread the pest is. If its distribution is limited,
attempts will be made to control it while longer term options are investigated."
The clubbed tunicate has also been declared an unwanted organism, giving
Biosecurity New Zealand the teeth to implement control measures under the
Biosecurity Act if necessary.
Biosecurity New Zealand announced late last week that the clubbed tunicate
sea squirt had been found in the Viaduct and its presence at Lyttelton detected
as part of baseline research being undertaken around the country to assess the
state of the country's ports.
The Auckland find was made by a visiting UK marine biologist and the
Lyttelton specimen was contained in a scraping of material from the wharf taken
at the end of 2004 and only recently analysed and identified.
This week there has been a further unconfirmed find of what is thought to be
a juvenile clubbed tunicate on the fouled hull of a vessel that had travelled to
Picton from the Viaduct. The vessel had spent time in Lyttelton prior to
spending some months berthed in the Viaduct Harbour. Clubbed tunicate only breed
when mature. The vessel was removed from the water in Picton and cleaned.
NOTE TO REPORTERS: No spokesperson will be available at the Viaduct tomorrow,
although footage can be arranged. Please direct any queries to:
Phil Barclay Senior Communications Adviser Biosecurity New Zealand 027 229