Invasive seaweed threatens biodiversity

Protectors  of the Fiordland marine environment are worried inadequate resources risk their work in halting the invasion of a pest seaweed.

Fast-growing, undaria threatens Fiordland's native biodiversity.

The Fiordland Marine Guardians work with other agencies to address issues such as the management of pest species.

During a presentation to Environment Southland (ES) last week, chairwoman Rebecca McLeod acknowledged the strong relationship the guardians had with council.

However, Dr McLeod noted current challenges the area faced which had relevance to ES.

This included the attempt to halt the spread of the invasive seaweed.

"It is so common now around the New Zealand coastline, so getting support from a national level to deal with undaria has been really difficult."

Resources were limited and inadequate and included those used for monitoring and compliance of the Fiordland Marine Pest Pathway Management Plan, she said.

It was also hard for operators to comply with rules.

"One reason for that is the facilities in Bluff to take a vessel into the water to clean it are simply not fit for purpose."

Financing the pest control was also a hurdle.

A decision on the group’s application made last year through the Jobs for Nature programme was imminent, she said.

If successful, it would enable the training and employment of locals to work to reduce the pest’s biomass and limit its spread.

While the council was thanked for its support thus far, Dr McLeod noted part of the challenge was other regional councils not controlling marine pests in their areas.

There were some councils, however, that formed a collective instead of waiting for a national approach, she said.

This helped with the sharing of details on movements of individual vessels; undaria can be spread by visiting boats.

"We think this could happen in the bottom of the South Island with Otago Regional Council and Environment Canterbury, for example."

Cr Lloyd McCallum suggested they set up a workshop to go over issues which had been raised.

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