Keeping Marine Pests out of Fiordland Update # 2

25/08/2014

A Marine Pathway Management Plan is most likely to succeed if those who understand the challenges of the Fiordland situation and care about keeping marine pests out are involved. If you know of anyone who would like to receive these Updates and get involved in what we are hoping to achieve for Fiordland please let us know.

 

Keeping Marine Pests out of Fiordland

Update # 2

We are delighted with the response to our Update # 1 about developing a Marine Pathway Management Plan for Fiordland. Comments indicate the depth of feeling about keeping marine pests out of Fiordland.

 

“It’s a great idea to formulate a plan”

 

“This is a great initiative”

 

“Excellent work - really excellent” and “Fantastic to see some progress in this space”

 

Since then members of the Steering Group have been talking more widely about the initiative and are being asked what exactly is a Marine Pathway Management Plan? So this update focuses on that very question.

 

Marine Pathway Management Plans

A new approach

Marine Pathway Management Plans offer a new approach to combating the spread of marine pests. Rather than waiting until a pest is discovered in an area before taking action a Marine Pathway Management Plan targets the way pests can be transported from place to place.

 

A new amendment

National and Regional Marine Pathway Plans were introduced by an amendment to the Biosecurity Act in 2012. The steps are well defined in the amendment and give a clear guide about the process to be followed. As yet no Marine Pathway Management Plans have been produced, which is not surprising given how recent the

legislation and associated processes are. Policy governing domestic (New Zealand) marine pathways is the responsibility of the Minister for Primary Industries as are National Marine Pathway Management Plans. Responsibility for Regional Marine Pathway

Management Plans sits with the Regional Councils. A number of regional councils with marine pest issues, such as Northland and Top of the South collective, have indicated a strong interest in developing their own Regional Marine Pathway Management Plans.

 

A new tool for Fiordland

Environment Southland’s March 2014 decision to develop a Marine Pathways Management Plan for Fiordland was based on a number of important factors:

  • As an iconic marine area, Fiordland is treasured by New Zealanders and visitors alike. The importance of safeguarding against marine pest invasions goes without saying.
  • Since 2005, when the Fiordland (Te Moana o Atawhenua) Marine Management Act was passed, the area has been managed collectively and co-operatively by the community based Guardians, Environment Southland, Ministry for Primary Industries (Biosecurity and Fisheries), Department of Conservation and the Ministry for the Environment. Such an all-encompassing management regime is ideal for working to keep marine pests out of Fiordland.
  • The 2005 Act also introduced a legally defined boundary for the Fiordland Marine Area, a real advantage when working to keep pests out of the area.
  • Since Undaria was discovered in Sunday Cove, Breaksea Sound in 2010 the collective response has been remarkable. Every month for 46 months, a team of around six divers and vessel/helicopter operators has carried out weeklong trips, removing Undaria and using novel means to treat the area. This focused effort has a very real chance of restoring the Fiordland Marine Area to a pest free status.
  • The experience of dealing with a pest after it has arrived has prompted the Guardians/agencies group to commit to preventing other marine pests from arriving by developing a Fiordland Marine Pathway Management Plan.

 

Keeping marine pests out of Fiordland

There is a logical process for developing a Marine Pathway Management Plan for Fiordland. The steps in this process are basic common sense but working through them will raise challenges about how to achieve solutions that are workable and practical.

 

This is where you, the vessel owners/operators and others with experience of Fiordland can provide the key to creating an effective Pathway Plan.

To begin, only two fundamental questions need to be asked:

 

1. How might marine pests arrive in Fiordland?

The answer to this is already well known - from biofouling on vessels, their niche areas and marine equipment and gear.

 

Whether it is a yacht that sails down to Fiordland from a northern marina infested with Mediterranean fan worm or a vessel returning to Fiordland from Bluff Harbour or Stewart Island where Undaria is well established, there is a degree of risk associated with vessels of all types and sizes.

 

2. How can we ensure vessels do not transport pests into Fiordland?

This is a multi-layered question - the answers to which will form the Marine Pathway Management Plan. But the first step is all about cleaning:

 

Clean vessel and gear standards, cleaning methods and cleaning facilities

 

These topics will be the focus of (Update # 3).