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Team effort needed on Didemnum sea squirt

Team effort needed on Marlborough Didemnum sea squirt

Eradication of the Didemnum vexillum sea squirt causing problems for Marlborough mussel farmers is not feasible and a team effort will be needed to manage it, Biosecurity Minister Jim Anderton said today.

“This sea squirt was first detected in 2001 and should not be confused with another sea squirt, Steyla clava, which is foreign, to which Biosecurity New Zealand is leading a response, Mr Anderton said.

“Debating whether Didemnum was native or exotic, and therefore which agency is responsible for leading any action is irrelevant and does nothing to solve the problem. Eradication is simply not feasible and management will require a team effort,” Mr Anderton said.

“The knowledge Biosecurity New Zealand has gained during the Steyla clava response will be invaluable, and the agency has already met with the Didemnum working group made up of representatives from the New Zealand Mussel Farming Association Inc., New Zealand King Salmon Company, Port Marlborough, Marlborough District Council, and the Cawthron Institute, and will be open to further requests for technical assistance.”

Biosecurity New Zealand was continuing to advance marine biosecurity programmes, including port surveillance and pest control research, Mr Anderton said.

“Biosecurity New Zealand is building strong industry and public commitment to protecting New Zealand, recognising that biosecurity is a responsibility all New Zealanders share. New Zealand is more dependent on biosecurity than any other developed country.

“Regardless of how well we organise, there will always be major challenges in maintaining effective biosecurity along with on-going debate about individual programmes, funding levels and overall priorities,” Mr Anderton said.


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