Five specimens of a marine pest first identified in New Zealand waters last month have been found in Lyttelton port, and a survey has been launched to see if it can be eradicated.
A single specimen of the Mediterranean fanworm was found on a vessel in the port last month during a routine surveillance check for certain target marine pests.
MAF Biosecurity New Zealand said today four further specimens had been found, indicating there was a "definite population'' of the organisms in the port.
The fanworm is one of the species the organisation looks out for due to its potential to spread and affect other marine species.
It poses no risk to human health.
A further, detailed, search of the area has been launched, to ascertain if eradicating the species is feasible, or whether management measures will be an advisable option.
The work is expected to take a week.
The survey will cover the Lyttelton Port area including the area immediately outside the port basin and Magazine Bay Marina.
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