Fiordland marine biosecurity programme for invasive seaweed

MPI works with other agencies and the Fiordland Marine Guardians to protect the Fiordland marine environment through the Fiordland Marine Biosecurity Programme. Find out about the programme and how it has been applied in the response to an invasive seaweed.

Fiordland Marine Biosecurity Programme

Since 2006, MPI has partnered with the Department of Conservation (DOC), Ministry for the Environment (MfE), Environment Southland, and the Fiordland Marine Guardians (the Guardians) in a programme to provide marine biosecurity protection for Fiordland.

This work programme is based on the Fiordland Marine Biosecurity Plan 2015/16 – 2020/21.

Fiordland Marine Biosecurity Plan [PDF, 6.8 MB]

The programme aims to prevent and prepare for marine pests in Fiordland by:

  • addressing ways marine pests could be transported into Fiordland
  • looking out for marine pests (surveillance)
  • coordinating biosecurity activities of partner agencies
  • raising awareness and changing behaviours (for example, through biosecurity guidance for visitors to Fiordland).

Agreement to guide response to risk organisms

MPI, DOC and Environment Southland have developed an agreement to guide how agencies will respond if risk organisms are found in Fiordland. This 'Joint-agency marine biosecurity response agreement' is part of the Fiordland Marine Biosecurity Plan.

The response process is currently being applied to the discovery of the invasive Asian kelp Undaria pinnatifida (Undaria) in remote Sunday Cove in Breaksea Sound.

Undaria in Fiordland

Undaria is a highly invasive seaweed that rapidly overruns native species and changes marine ecosystems.

In April 2010, a single mature Undaria specimen was found on a line mooring a barge to the shoreline in Sunday Cove. Following this, moderate numbers of Undaria were found on the mooring line and seafloor. However, Undaria doesn't seem to be well-established in the area.

Map showing location of Sunday Cove in Fiordland
Location of Sunday Cove in Fiordland.


A joint-agency response

Undaria on a mooring rope in Sunday Cove. (K. Blakemore, DOC) 
Undaria on a mooring rope in Sunday Cove.
Image: K. Blakemore, DOC.

MPI, Environment Southland (Southland Regional Council), and DOC have joined forces to try and eliminate Undaria from Sunday Cove.

Every 4 weeks, a team of 6 qualified divers survey the area. Divers are particularly looking for sporophytes (the juvenile form) 4cm to 30cm long. The goal is to find Undaria before it reaches maturity. Any specimens that are found are removed by hand, carefully placed in a zip-lock bag, and destroyed back at the boat.

This response will continue until no Undaria have been found for 18 continuous months. The response will then be changed to a monitoring programme that will run for 3 years.

Find out more

Who to contact

If you have questions about Fiordland marine biosecurity, email

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