[New Zealand] Environment Southland biosecurity officers are confident marine pest Undaria will be successfully eradicated from Fiordland.
The highly invasive Japanese seaweed was discovered in Fiordland waterways in April 2010.
Biosecurity officer Shaun Cunningham said divers had not found the pest in Sunday Cove, Fiordland, since December 2015.
“As long as we don’t get another incursion, it’s looking positive,” he said.
Once a month, six people dive about 18 metres to the sea floor in Sunday Cove to search for and destroy any Undaria found.
Kina had also been introduced to to eat the plant.
Most recently, divers had been finding some random appearances of juvenile plants on the sea floor, but none had been spotted since December 2015, Cunningham said.
“The main concern is that Undaria can modify coastal ecosystems by out competing native seaweed species for food and space.”
Species unique to Fiordland, such as black coral, occupies shallow waters and could potentially be impacted by the pest, he said.
Biosecurity officers regularly inspected mooring areas of high traffic for marine pests.
Environment Southland had partnered with the Ministry of Primary Industries and the Department of Conservation to help get rid of undaria from Fiordland.
Senior biosecurity officer Richard Bowman said he was optimistic it could be gone for good.
“It’s looking good,” he said.
The next priority was to reduce the risk of more pest plans being introduced into Fiordland, he said.
The Fiordland Marine Pest Plan that is currently under submission will help to eradicate more.
If implemented, the risk of marine pests establishing in Fiordland could be greatly reduced.
The plan focuses on marine users having clean vessels and gear when in Fiordland.
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