Marine pest control plan roll out

A New Zealand first in pest management is set to roll out in Fiordland.

Environment Southland and the Ministry of Primary Industries, the Department of Conservation, the Fiordland Marine Guardians and Ngai Tahu are developing a new initiative called the Marine Pest Pathways Plan for the Fiordland Marine area.

The plan will allow authorities to control the movements of boats and ships in Fiordland waterways when there is a risk of harmful, hitchhiking pests on board.

The plan is the first of its kind, and would be regarded as the pilot for similar initiatives elsewhere.

It would also be designed specifically so it could integrate seamlessly into a national marine pest pathways plan, which is being contemplated for the future.

Environment Southland officer Derek Richards said the plan aimed to reduce the risk of invasion by harmful marine organisms within Fiordland's near-pristine coastal and marine environment.

It was a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to pest management, and would be more flexible than the current regional pest management strategy, he said.

The plan comes after amendments to the Biosecurity Act, which enables statutory policies to be created to control the movements of all pests along specified pathways.

Because of this, it was preferable to the existing regional pest management strategy which only focused on a select number of pests, he said.

"We're the first council to really move on this - other regional councils are watching closely."

Fiordland Marine Guardians chief executive Malcolm Lawson said it was great to have something proactive for the marine environment.

"When we look back, and see in the past how little was done, we've been lucky to escape with such little effects."

A lot of the ideas had come from Fiordland Marine Guardians, and it was exciting to see things finally start to move, he said.

Environment Southland's regional services committee resolved to approve the development of the plan this week.

Councillor Maurice Rodway said it was great to see the plan finally getting under way.

Funding could come out of the existing biosecurity budget, as provisions for work in marine biosecurity had already been made.


The Southland Times