NEW RULES TO STOP PEST SEAWEED IN AOTEA
Biosecurity New Zealand is placing legal controls on parts of Aotea Great Barrier Island in a bid to contain the invasive seaweed Caulerpa brachypus, while the local Mana Whenua governance group on Aotea are supporting a dual response by imposing a rāhui over the same areas.
Caulerpa brachypus, which has been found in Blind Bay and Tryphena Harbour, is an Unwanted Organism under the Biosecurity Act and can spread rapidly and create dense mats.
Biosecurity New Zealand’s Director Readiness and Response, John Walsh, says it can be spread to new locations by small fragments and is easily moved by people going about water activities like boating and fishing, including dredging.
On 20 September, Biosecurity New Zealand issued legal controls, known as a Controlled Area Notice (CAN), which make it illegal to take seafood from Blind Bay or Tryphena Harbour. Anchoring in the two areas without a permit is also banned. At the same time, a rāhui will be imposed.
All equipment used for marine activities – e.g. footwear, wetsuits, craypots, dredges and boat trailers – cannot be removed from the controlled zones without first checking for seaweed and removing it, leaving it in the area it came from.
Importantly, anyone wanting to move a boat that has been anchored out of the two affected bays can only do so with a permit.
Walsh says the controls aim to protect the island’s wider coastline while trying to not be too onerous for mana whenua and local people.
“People can still swim, dive, paddle or use a vessel in the Controlled Areas, so long as they don’t drop anchor.”
The CAN is in place until at least the end of November.
If you believe you have seen Caulerpa brachypus somewhere outside of Blind Bay or Tryphena Harbour, contact Biosecurity New Zealand on 0800 80 99 66.