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Government takes action on biosecurity threat

Hon David Carter

Minister for Biosecurity

16 December 2008
Media Release

Government takes action on biosecurity threat

Cabinet has approved funding of $3.6 million for a five-year local programme to rid Lyttelton Port of the marine pest Mediterranean fanworm.

Biosecurity Minister Hon David Carter says this action is a sign of the priority the Government places on providing an urgent response to biosecurity threats.

“Unlike the previous Government I am not prepared to let essential biosecurity measures be bogged down in bureaucracy and inaction.

“This worm is a highly invasive species with no known predators and it has an ability to thrive in a wide range of habitats.

“It could displace existing species and foul port structures, vessels and aquaculture farms.

“It is essential that MAF Biosecurity New Zealand (MAFBNZ) acts to rid Lyttelton Port of this pest and prevent it spreading to other high value areas.”

The fanworm (Sabella spallanzanii) was detected in the port in May through the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s targeted marine pest surveillance programme.

MAFBNZ has carried out interim measures such as diver search and removal. Research has shown this method to be the only effective way to treat the pest. Information obtained from these measures indicates that the incursion is recent and appears to be confined to Lyttelton Port.

The work programme will involve ongoing control of the fanworm by diver search and removal and regular monitoring to detect populations. There will also be a communications programme to encourage the owners of moored vessels in the area to keep their boat hulls clean to avoid spreading the pest.


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