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Scientists Take On Marine Invaders


Marine Invaders are threatening New Zealand's biosecurity say scientists at the Cawthron Institute in Nelson.

Mike Taylor, leader of the marine invaders programme, said that New Zealand is under threat from many marine species including the Chinese mitten crab, the European shore crab, the Northern pacific seastar and the Mediterranean fanworm.

"We are currently working on providing the knowledge required to minimise risks to New Zealand's marine biosecurity," said Dr Taylor.

"This includes looking at marine biosecurity risks before the border, at the border and after the border.

"The pre-border part looks at high risk shipping routes for the transport of marine pests to New Zealand, and is exploring ways of removing pests before they arrive. This summer we will be going to sea to see how the excess heat produced by ships' engines can be used to treat ballast water".

The research has shown that the sea is an effective barrier to seeing marine invaders; so new species often go unnoticed until they are well established and widespread. This makes eradication or effective control of marine pests extremely difficult.

The research, an investment of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology has been studying a new wharf development in Shakespeare Bay in the Marlborough Sounds.

"Waimahara Wharf is now being visited by large overseas logging ships for the first time, and we can expect them to discharge thousands of tonnes of ballast water in exchange for their cargo," said Dr Taylor.

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"We collected baseline data on the biological communities in Shakespeare Bay before ships started arriving, and are now looking for new species both on ships and in the Bay.

"This will enable us to develop better methods for preventing new arrivals and for detecting introductions in their early stages. The methods can be applied to ports elsewhere and this will vastly improve our level of marine biosecurity"

For further information: Mike Taylor, Cawthron Institute, Tel: (03) 548 2319, michael@cawthron.org.nz www.cawthron.org.nz

Madeleine Setchell,Communications Adviser Foundation for Research, Science and Technology Tel 04 9177806 Mobile 025 40 60 40 www.frst.govt.nz


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