Saturday, July 20, 2024

Govt sinks $5m into fight against caulerpa

The battle to contain the fast-spreading exotic caulerpa seaweed has received a $5 million boost to accelerate the development of removal techniques.

Biosecurity Minister, Andrew Hoggard said the time had come to build on the work of Biosecurity New Zealand, mana whenua, communities and local authorities to understand the pest and prevent its spread.

“The extra $5 million is an investment in technology to contain caulerpa and then eliminate it where possible from those affected areas,” said Mr Hoggard.

“We know this thing spreads fast and we’re committed to action. This funding increase will enable further development of suction dredge technology, which I recently visited in Northland.”

Minister Hoggard, who described the situation as “challenging”, said no other country has been able to adequately control or eradicate such a large infestation of exotic caulerpa.

“Early results look promising, we want to continue to improve the technology so it can operate at pace with increased efficiencies and see if elimination in certain places is actually possible.”

“New Zealanders value the marine environment highly and we need to keep up this fight as we continue to search for ways to get rid of this invasive pest. The extra $5m announced today will support this effort,” he said.

The boost in funding will focus on: 

  • Advancing the suction dredge technology currently under testing in Northland – with a view to potentially eliminate exotic caulerpa at Omākiwi Cove;
  • Running an advanced trial to further test local elimination at Iris Shoal near Kawau Island;
  • The formation of a national steering group to seek stakeholder and community input into future management, strategy and decision making;
  • Addressing perimeter management at Aotea Great Barrier ahead of potentially larger scale suppression work there;
  • Enhance public awareness through various media campaigns and targeted signage;
  • Carrying out detailed surveillance at Ahuahu Great Mercury Island to better understand what appears to be a relatively small incursion;
  • Undertaking operational research to improve surveillance to locate any new areas of exotic caulerpa.

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