100 sea squirts found in survey

Styela clava
Styela clava

More than 100 invasive marine pests have been found in Picton's inner harbour.

Council biosecurity co-ordinator Jono Underwood said the survey of Picton's inner harbour for the invasive marine pest sea squirt Styela clava was completed and the results were now being analysed.

"The bad news is that we found plenty more sea squirts."

However, the good news was that settled conditions and excellent visibility meant that the work went quickly and only small areas of the marina had the invasive sea squirts present.

Parties responsible for the top of the south biosecurity plan are expected to meet later this week to discuss what to do next.

Mr Underwood said the dive team discovered another 100 individual sea squirts within the inner Picton marina basin and one immature individual outside the "coat hanger" while still in the marina confines.

There was only one instance where pest sea squirts were found on a vessel, with a small number attached to a propeller.

He said all Styela clava found were carefully removed.

People could move their boats now, with movement risk being low, but Mr Underwood said it was important that people kept their vessels clean, to ensure that squirts and other potential marine pests were not spread in Marlborough.

"It is good biosecurity hygiene to keep all vessels free of hull fouling organisms," he said.

"Highly fouled vessels don't just cost more to run, they pose a risk to the marine environment."

Mr Underwood said scientists at Niwa and the Top of the South Marine Biosecurity Partnership were analysing the results of the pest survey and would soon be in a position to provide advice on the severity of the infestation and recommend next steps for the response team to consider.

The Marlborough Express