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Latest Sea Squirt Find A Blow To Marine Farmers

Latest Sea Squirt Find A Blow To Marine Farmers

Nelson, 9 November 2005

Marine farmers are very disappointed to learn today that the exotic sea squirt, Styela clava, has been confirmed on a marine farm in Wilson's Bay in Coromandel.

New Zealand Mussel Industry Council Chairman and Coromandel marine farmer, Peter Vitasovich says 'It's a real blow to marine farmers to find out that the sample recently sent to Biosecurity New Zealand from a farm in Wilson's Bay is the exotic sea squirt, Styela clava'.

Our marine farming industry has done everything right. We sent all our farmers an identification guide within days of Biosecurity New Zealand's first public notification in October.

Now we have an industry code of practice telling farmers how to reduce the risk of spread from one farm to another.

"There isn't a marine farmer in New Zealand who doesn't know how to identify and eradicate this sea squirt if they find it' he said.

Biosecurity New Zealand has told us that the sea squirt has probably been in New Zealand ports since at least 2002, coming in on the hull of a foreign vessel that moored in either Lyttelton Harbour or the Viaduct Basin in Waitemata Harbour".

'But from this latest find it appears the sea squirt has spread.

We should have known about this invasion a lot earlier when it would have been much easier to get rid of the sea squirt.

Now, three years down the track, the sea squirt has appeared on a marine farm in Coromandel, a popular recreational boating area.

We are bitterly disappointed that Biosecurity New Zealand isn't doing more to actively educate recreational boaties and they are not doing enough to eradicate this pest.

Passive surveying just isn't enough anymore. We are calling on government to take action to protect New Zealand's marine environment and our farms" he said.

ENDS

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