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Beating marine pests in Northland

Beating marine pests in Northland

Northlanders can find out what marine pests are - and how they can help stop their spread - at free workshops being offered to local communities throughout the region.

Northland Regional Council Biosecurity Officer Jillian Fulcher is offering to attend community meetings and run the one or two-hour marine pest workshops.

“Marine pests could have one of the greatest impacts on Northland, but it only takes one person to make an enormous difference when it comes to stopping their spread,” Ms Fulcher says.

She’s offering the free workshops to any interested community groups until the end of October. The workshops will cover an introduction to marine pests, marine pest impacts in Northland, key features and where marine pests prefer to live, as well as how to identify and report them.

A marine pest workshop is also being offered in Kaitaia on Tuesday 18 September from 2:30pm to 4:30pm at the Department of Conservation office, 25 Matthews Avenue, Kaitaia. (Contact Jillian Fulcher on 0800 002 004 to register.)

Key topics for the workshop include how to identify the top six ‘exclusion organisms’ (the worst marine pests); the Northern Pacific Sea Star, European Shore Crab, Chinese Mitten Crab, Asian Clam, a bright green marine algae called Caulerpa taxifolia and the Mediterranean fanworm.

Since 2005 more than 250 marine pest species have been found in New Zealand waters with the recent discovery of the Mediterranean fanworm in Whangarei Harbour highlighting the risk they pose to Northland’s coastal environment and economy.

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“The community can help stop new marine pests arriving in Northland by being proactive, reporting sightings as well as following some simple rules,” says Ms Fulcher.

“It’s particularly important to prevent these pests from arriving as there are few control tools currently available, meaning it’s very hard to stop them spreading once they reach our waters.”

She says Northlanders who enjoy the coast can play a part in protecting it by keeping vigilant, knowing what marine pests to watch out for, and reporting anything unusual.

“Marine pests can arrive in Northland via ballast water, poorly maintained boats and slow moving vessels so it’s important that anyone using our coast ensures their vessel hull is clean when they arrive (and leave).”

She says reporting anything different in the marine environment is also really important – note where you saw it, take a photograph or collect a sample and call the free 24/7 Ministry for Primary Industries’ hotline: 0800 80 99 66.

“Everyone can help protect Northland’s marine environment by preventing these species from spreading – the more eyes we have on the ground noticing and reporting unusual marine species the better,” says Ms Fulcher.

“We want to encourage regular users of the marine environment to be vigilant; including divers, fishermen, those in the aquaculture industry, shell and seaweed collectors, kayak and coastal care groups.”

For more information about marine pests go to or

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