Working together in Fiordland to oust Undaria

July 8, 2011

Biosecurity managers are making it clear that one visitor is very unwelcome in Fiordland.

A collaborative approach by the Fiordland Marine Partnership has seen a swift response to the arrival of the invasive exotic seaweed Undaria pinnatifida.

Jennie Brunton, Adviser on Pests and Pathways for the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, outlined the joint-agency response to Undaria in a presentation to the New Zealand Biosecurity Institute’s National Education and Training Seminar in Takapuna on Friday [July 8, 2011].

The key management agencies which form the Fiordland Marine Partnership had discussed how to respond if a new pest arrived in the delicately balanced Fiordland marine ecosystem.

Undaria already occurred in other parts of New Zealand and was identified as a particular risk.

Work to prevent it coming to Fiordland had focused on likely pathways, such as bio-fouling on one of the hundreds of boats that visit the area.

The agencies ran a programme of surveillance, compliance monitoring and communication with water users, working with the Government-appointed community advisory group Fiordland Marine Guardians and Fisheries staff.

But in early 2010 a surveillance exercise identified one mature Undaria specimen on a rope running from a barge to the shoreline of Sunday Cove in Breaksea Sound.

Environment Southland took charge of the joint agency response, because the organism was new to Fiordland waters though already established elsewhere in New Zealand.

Costs are being shared equally between the Department of Conservation, MAF and Environment Southland.

The clarity beforehand about how this collaboration would work was very useful, says Jennie. “It meant we could just get straight on with it, once we’d decided there needed to be a response.”

Several surveys have been conducted to assess Undaria’s occurrence in the area, and treatments have been organised to kill off patches. The joint response team also recently moved in kina, to assess their impact in controlling Undaria plants or clearing areas to aid searching.

The invasion by Undaria has been caught early, and the goal is to eliminate it from Fiordland waters.

Biosecurity Month

The New Zealand Biosecurity Institute, of which the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) is a member, has designated July as Biosecurity month.

MAF has the lead role in managing the country’s biosecurity, with a strategy of managing risk and providing layers of protection and response.

MAF works at three levels: overseas to stop travellers and importers bringing pests to New Zealand; at the border to identify and eliminate pests that do arrive; and in New Zealand to find, manage or eliminate pests that have established here.


Media contact:
Jackie Bedford
Ph (04) 894 0471 or 029 894 0471

Or call the MAF Medialine: 029 894 0328


Last Updated: 08 July 2011

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