Port News: Fanworm: an immediate response


After identifying growing numbers of marine pest fanworm in Whakaraupō, LPC joined with the Whaka Ora Healthy Harbour project to put into place an immediate response action plan.

Three months on, and the swift response has seen 883 fanworms removed from the inner harbour.

The pest poses a significant ecological threat to native biodiversity, mahinga kai and commercial marine farming operations.

The response was carried out by a combination of divers at LPC and Diving Services New Zealand, who were funded by Whaka Ora.

Together, they tackled phase one, targeting five key areas identified in previous surveys.

LPC Environmental Business Partner Kirsty Brennan says the efforts to date are going to have a significant impact on the fanworm population.

“Of the 883 worms that were removed, 83% were of reproductive size, which is the ideal timing as it makes it difficult for any remaining worms to be successful.

“It’s been great to get a better understanding of the spread of the fanworm to know where we need to target next,” says Kirsty.

With Diving Services New Zealand also coming on board, the harbour has benefited from the use of a remotely operated vehicle (ROV).

The ROV was a great tool for reaching areas that were unsafe for the dive teams such as our decommissioned wharves.

Although COVID-19 has slowed down the response, LPC is gearing up for phase two.

It is important that we carry on this work, surveying and clearing the remaining areas.

LPC remains committed to the response, with the long-term surveying led by Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Environment Canterbury.

“A partnership framework for marine biosecurity that allows for early detection and response to marine biosecurity issues is vital in the long-term success of this project,” says Kirsty.

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