The Controlled Area which was put in place in 2017 to reduce the spread of the Asian seaweed Undaria pinnatifida (Undaria) in Breaksea Sound, Fiordland has been removed, effective from Monday 2 December.
Environment Southland biosecurity and biodiversity manager Ali Meade said the Controlled Area has been superseded by rules in the new Southland Regional Pest Management Plan.
Under the plan, it is prohibited to harbour Undaria, including having Undaria growing on a vessel’s hull, within the Southland region. The only two exemption areas are where Undaria is already well established.
One exemption area is around southern Southland including Stewart Island, and another in Breaksea Sound. Owners of vessels must ensure that their hulls and equipment are free of Undaria before they move outside of these exemption areas.
Undaria is common around NZ ports. It was first identified in Fiordland in 2010 and Environment Southland, the Department of Conservation and Biosecurity New Zealand, with support from the Fiordland Marine Guardians, have been working together on an intensive removal programme ever since.
“Although we have to accept that the levels of Undaria around Stewart Island and in Breaksea Sound are beyond the point where we can completely remove this pest, we need boaties to make every effort to keep it from spreading into other areas,” said Ali.
Anyone boating in the Fiordland Marine Area this summer needs to remember to abide by the rules of the Fiordland Marine Regional Pathway Management Plan.
The plan requires all vessels entering within one nautical mile of the landward boundary of the Fiordland Marine Area to hold a Clean Vessel Pass and to comply with clean vessel, clean gear and residual seawater standards. Applying for a Clean Vessel Pass is free, and can be done online in a matter of minutes.
Ali said Environment Southland will be carrying out another joint-agency compliance trip this summer, and boaties without a current Clean Vessel Pass are liable for inspection and clean-up charges. Costs could be as high as $40,000 or more, if special equipment and a dive team had to be flown in.
Earlier this year, a couple who took their boat into Fiordland with an expired Clean Vessel Pass and suspected Sabella spallanzanii (Mediterranean Fan Worm) clinging to it, faced a substantial bill.
Further information on the Fiordland Marine Regional Pathway Management Plan and how you can protect Fiordland can be found at www.es.govt.nz/fmpp.
New rules to manage Undaria:
- vessels must be free of Undaria when they leave the Southern Undaria Exemption Area and the Breaksea Sound Undaria Exemption Area;
- all marine gear and equipment, including but not limited to lobster pots, mooring lines and dive gear, must be free of Undaria when it leaves the Southern Undaria Exemption Area and the Breaksea Sound Undaria Exemption Area;
- all on-board residual seawater collected in the Exemption Area must be treated or discarded within the Southern Undaria Exemption Area and the Breaksea Sound Undaria Exemption Area.