Fanworm search begins in Lyttelton

30 June 2008

Work begins today on surveying Lyttelton port for the marine pest the Mediterranean fanworm (Sabella spallanzanii).

A single specimen of the fanworm was picked up earlier in the year through MAF Biosecurity New Zealand (MAFBNZ) routine surveillance for certain target marine pests. The surveillance programme is undertaken at a number of high risk ports and marinas around New Zealand twice a year in winter and summer.

Four further specimens of the fanworm have subsequently been found during a further round of surveillance, indicating there is a definite population of the organisms in the port.

Because the Mediterranean fanworm poses a potential threat to the marine environment, MAFBNZ determined that a further detailed search of the area was required in order to ascertain if eradicating the species is feasible, or whether management measures will be an advisable option.

The actual research is being undertaken by the Cawthron Institute and divers will be working in the area from today (Monday 30 June). The work is expected to take a week.

The survey will cover the Lyttelton Port area including the area immediately outside the port basin and Magazine Bay Marina.

ENDS

For further information, or to request access to the survey site for photographs/footage, please contact:

Lesley Patston | Senior Communications Adviser | Ph 04 894 0163 or 029 894 0163

Contact MPI

for general enquiries phone

0800 00 83 33