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Spread of marine pests due to lack of resources

6 May 2013

Spread of marine pests due to lack of resources

The Government must urgently provide the equipment needed to contain a current marine pest outbreak in the Coromandel, the Green Party said today.

Green Party biosecurity spokesperson Steffan Browning visited Coromandel Harbour on Sunday and was shocked to find that the Waikato Regional Council staff scrambling to contain an outbreak of Mediterranean fanworm didn’t have enough equipment to do so. Discovery of the worm on two barges recently brought to the harbour was announced last week, but only one containment bag has been found to enclose the pest and stop it from spreading.

“The staff working hard on containing this pest should be commended, but they need to have enough of the right equipment to be able to do their job,” said Green Party biosecurity spokesperson Steffan Browning.

“The Government could, and should, step in to ensure that there are enough containment bags available.

“These fanworms are about to send out millions of spores, if they haven’t already. The need for this containment equipment is urgent.

“If the fanworm gets established in the Coromandel the effect on wild biodiversity and aquaculture businesses will be far-reaching, impacting the region’s economy.

“The spread of fanworm illustrates wider systematic issues with this Government’s lax position on biosecurity.

“Spread of pests around the country could be stopped by introducing controls on boat movements around our harbours so we can protect our environment and aquaculture industries.

“Currently there are two permanent bases of Mediterranean fanworm in New Zealand, Waitemata and Lyttleton harbours, with Whangarei subject to an eradication program. Movement controls are needed urgently before Mediterranean fanworm becomes New Zealand’s next varroa, or psyllid.

“The Government needs to show that it can react with full urgency now, and have a much better level of future preparedness.

“This infestation is the most recent example of how the National Government’s relaxed attitude to biosecurity puts both our tourism and primary industries at risk. That’s a price we can’t afford to pay.

“We will continue to see further spread of pests if this Government does not devote adequate resources to biosecurity.”

ENDS