Asian invader under attack in Fiordland

AMANDA PARKINSON
Last updated 05:00 23/12/2013

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A multi-agency project to remove an invasive Asian seaweed from Fiordland has had success.

Nearly 2000 undaria plants have been extracted after Environment Southland, the Department of Conservation, Ministry for Primary Industry and Fiordland Marine Guardians launched an intensive removal programme.

Environment Southland biosecurity manager Richard Bowman said the multi-agency approach had been a big reason for the success.

"Lots of prior planning for this type of situation had been done between the agencies at a policy level and this meant the response was initiated quickly and relatively easily. It's been a fantastic collaboration," he said.

The removal programme also introduced native sea urchin, kina, to help clear existing growth and make it easier for dive teams to find undaria plants.

Response manager Derek Richards said the idea of using kina had never been done before and was hard to quantify.

"Undaria is palatable to kina and it's likely they've also consumed the early microscopic stage, which can remain in the marine environment for up to two and a half years."

Dive teams have continued to survey the 8-hectare area for several days every four weeks.

During a routine marine biosecurity inspection in early 2010, Department of Conservation staff spotted a single mature undaria plant on a mooring rope in Sunday Cove at Breaksea Sound, Fiordland.

A preliminary survey of high-risk areas in Fiordland found hundreds of juvenile undaria plants in Sunday Cove, but none elsewhere.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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