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Latest Situation with Seasquirt Response

17 October 2005

Latest Situation with Seasquirt Response

Biosecurity New Zealand has today confirmed that a small number of specimens taken from the Waikawa Marina near Picton are not the invasive seasquirt theclubbed tunicate.

Divers were at the marina on Friday and during the weekend checking the area where a vessel that had arrived from the Viaduct Harbour in Auckland had been briefly berthed.

That vessel had been promptly removed from the water and a juvenile clubbed tunicate was found on its hull.

Senior Marine Advisor Brendan Gould says he has had word this morning that the limited area searched in Picton was free of the clubbed tunicate.

“We have not, however, searched the wider Picton area, so we cannot confirm that the whole port and marina is free of the seasquirt.”

Mr Gould says because of the low-risk find on the boat hull, and the proximity to large areas of marine farming, Picton will be the subject of a full survey in the near future.

Divers will be in the water in Lyttelton, the location of a confirmed find of the organism, later this week.

“We are committed to fully surveying the areas of any confirmed finds of the seasquirt,” Mr Gould says.

Meanwhile, work is continuing in Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour, scoping the size of the clubbed tunicate incursion there. Divers are today examining the Westhaven Marina, which neighbours the Viaduct Harbour where the seasquirt was originally found.

Brendan Gould says his team is working flat out to establish the best way to deal with the clubbed tunicate. While the surveying to determine its spread is continuing, other members of Biosecurity New Zealand’s response team are focused on plans to contain and eradicate the organism.

ENDS

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