Major port biosecurity surveillance underway

NIWA’s Olivia Johnston inspecting a crab trap filled with native swimming crabs (Nectocarcinus antarcticus), as part of Bluff port surveillance. (Photo: Kimberley Seaward, NIWA)

NIWA has been engaged by MAF Biosecurity New Zealand (MAFBNZ) to implement a new round of port surveillance, targeting potential invasive marine species that could pose a high risk to our environment and economy.

The four-year project involves summer and winter surveys of nine key ports and marinas around New Zealand – Whangarei, Waitemata, Tauranga, Wellington, Nelson, Lyttelton, Otago, Bluff, and Opua in the Bay of Islands.

The first summer season of surveys has gone well according to project co-leader Dr Don Morrisey.

“Each survey takes about a week, and involves six to eight people, plus boats and equipment,” says Don. “We are sampling using traps and benthic sleds, and divers are inspecting port structures. Any suspect organisms and potential range expansions by known invaders are being reported to the MAFBNZ Investigation and Diagnostic Centre (IDC) for further evaluation.”

NIWA field teams will begin the winter round of surveys shortly.

Research subject: Biosecurity