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Luxton Takes Steps To Stop Marine 'Invaders'

Biosecurity Minister John Luxton today asked all those working or playing in and around the sea to watch out for six marine invaders, which have the potential to threaten New Zealand's unique marine environment.

The six pests are Mediterranean Fanworm, European Shore (or Green) Crab, Northern Pacific Seastar, Chinese Mitten Crab, Green Seaweed and Asian Clam.

"These marine invaders if established could seriously harm New Zealand's marine environment and put our valuable marine farming industry at risk. We are determined not to let these species get a hold, and are seeking the public's co-operation in this," Mr Luxton said.

The Ministry of Fisheries has published a booklet to help people identify the six potential marine pests which we are particularly concerned about. The booklet will be distributed to inshore fishers, marine farmers, iwi, port authorities, regional councils, dive clubs and surf clubs. An 0800 number (0800 INVADERS) has also been set up for anyone to ring if they think they have seen one of these invaders.

This move is part of the Ministry of Fisheries' ongoing biosecurity programme aimed at prevention, surveillance and response to new pests. Current measures have focused on ballast water controls, and work is underway for controls on ships with heavily fouled hulls, as these are the most likely ways that marine pests could reach New Zealand.

"Biosecurity remains one of the Government's most important areas of responsibility. In 1999, pest related expenditure exceeded $150 million. This is another initiative designed to enhance and protect our small island nation from unwanted pests which New Zealand is currently free of," Mr Luxton said.

ends

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