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Clubbed tunicate survey to start in Viaduct

DATE 12 October 2005

Clubbed tunicate survey to start in Viaduct Harbour on Thursday.

Work surveying the extent of the clubbed tunicate sea squirt in Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour will begin tomorrow (Thursday 13 October 2005).

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) has been contracted to undertake the extensive survey, and divers will be on site from tomorrow morning.

Biosecurity New Zealand Senior Marine Advisor Brendan Gould says NIWA will also examine Freemans Bay and, if necessary, the wider Waitemata Harbour. The survey should take a month, but it is anticipated that information will be available sooner.

Biosecurity New Zealand is also arranging a similar survey of the Lyttelton incursion area.

“It is vital that the surveys are undertaken as a full picture of the spread of the incursion is necessary before any decisions are made about future action,” Mr Gould says.

“Potential treatment options will be investigated once it has been established just how widespread the pest is. If its distribution is limited, attempts will be made to control it while longer term options are investigated.”

The clubbed tunicate has also been declared an unwanted organism, giving Biosecurity New Zealand the teeth to implement control measures under the Biosecurity Act if necessary.

Biosecurity New Zealand announced late last week that the clubbed tunicate sea squirt had been found in the Viaduct and its presence at Lyttelton detected as part of baseline research being undertaken around the country to assess the state of the country’s ports.

The Auckland find was made by a visiting UK marine biologist and the Lyttelton specimen was contained in a scraping of material from the wharf taken at the end of 2004 and only recently analysed and identified.

This week there has been a further unconfirmed find of what is thought to be a juvenile clubbed tunicate on the fouled hull of a vessel that had travelled to Picton from the Viaduct. The vessel had spent time in Lyttelton prior to spending some months berthed in the Viaduct Harbour. Clubbed tunicate only breed when mature. The vessel was removed from the water in Picton and cleaned.

ENDS

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