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Published: 2016-12-06 09:00:00

Boaties using Waikato’s coastal waters are being praised for their efforts to keep marine pests away from the region’s eastern coast.

“Checks on more than 660 vessel hulls by a dive team have shown virtually no sign of pests at a range of sites on the east coast of the Coromandel peninsula,” says biosecurity officer Thomas Malcolm.

“That indicates to us that boaties have been making a really solid effort to keep their hulls clean and stop the spread of dangerous marine pests such as the fanworm Sabella.

On the peninsula’s west coast, the council and the Ministry for Primary Industries have for some time been working together to tackle a fanworm incursion in Coromandel Harbour.

The council has also recently partnered with Bay of Plenty Regional Council to survey sites on the peninsula’s east coast to get a clearer handle on the situation there.

“We wanted to know if fanworm and other pests were a problem there as well,” said Mr Malcolm.

“A dive team has now almost finished surveying high risk areas that can be potential habitat for invasive marine pest species. It has looked at boat hulls, which are the main way invasive pest species are spread.

“The great news is that no fanworm has been found on the east coast of the peninsula, an indication to us that boaties have made a big effort to keep their hulls clean.

“And, apart from the already known presence of the seasquirt Styela in Kennedy Bay, no other marine pests were found anywhere else. This means the coastal marine area from the northern point of the peninsula, down the eastern coast and into the Bay of Plenty region appears clear from marine pest species. This includes islands off the coast.”

Mr Malcolm said the council thanked boaties and the wider public for their continued support in preventing the spread of pest species such as fanworm by adhering to safe practices such as cleaning vessels and equipment before moving to different areas.

He said it was a good idea for boaties to apply the “6 and 1 rule”.

“If boat owners are heading anywhere this summer, please ensure a coat of antifoul paint has been applied to the hull in the last six months or the hull has been cleaned in the last month. The best way to manage any pest species is a collaborative approach which prevents the spread of the pest and to manage what is already present.”