News & Media
News & Media

Caulerpa Update - 19 June 2024

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In this update we report on the first meeting of the Exotic Caulerpa National Advisory Group; flag time extensions to Controlled Area Notices; and outline the actions in response to a new detection in Omaha Cove/Leigh Harbour.

Exotic Caulerpa National Advisory Group underway

Members of the newly-appointed strategic advisory group assembled for the first time in Auckland last week (Wednesday 12 June).

The group of 13 people come from mana whenua, government agencies, fisheries, environmental organisations and community backgrounds.

Their core roles are to:

  • Provide independent advice to Biosecurity New Zealand to guide its role in the on-going management of exotic caulerpa.
  • Oversee the development of a national strategy and approach to the on-going response to exotic caulerpa, including prioritisation of activities and proposed roles and responsibilities for both national and local action.
  • Broadly support a more integrated, coordinated approach to the on-going management of exotic caulerpa.

The group has two co-chairs: Nicola MacDonald, CEO Ngāti Manuhiri and co-chair of the Hauraki Gulf Forum, and Mike Inglis, Biosecurity New Zealand’s Commissioner North.

Other members are:  

•       Martin Cleave – Media specialist and CEO Tangata Whenua

•       Herearoha Skipper – Chair Ngāti Paoa Iwi Trust and Director Te Ara Tupu Limited

•       Kirsty Knowles – Director Biodiversity System and Aquatic, Department of Conservation

•       Izzy Fordham – Chair Aotea Great Barrier Community Board

•       Rachel Kelleher – GM Auckland Council

•       Raewyn Peart – Environmental Defence Society

•       Tiffany Bock – GM Inshore Fisheries, Seafood New Zealand

•       Ian Steele – President New Zealand Sport Fishing Council

•       Don McKenzie – Biosecurity Group Manager, Northland Regional Council

•       John Walsh – Director Readiness and Response, Biosecurity New Zealand

•       Natasha Clarke-Nathan – Te Pēwhairangi Ipipiri

At future meetings, the Department of Conservation will be represented by Alex Rogers, Director, Regional Operations, Tamaki Makaurau Auckland.

At this first meeting, the group agreed on the Terms of Reference, and after some review, these will be posted on the caulerpa webpage: www.biosecurity.govt.nz/caulerpa along with minutes of the meeting.

The group determined that it will provide independent and direct advice to the Minister for Biosecurity and other Ministers as required.

Members also agreed an overarching strategic objective for future actions which is Do everything we feasibly can to reduce, remove and eliminate the impacts of exotic caulerpa.

Controlled Areas to be extended

The two exotic caulerpa Controlled Areas (at Aotea/Ahuahu and Te Rāwhiti Inlet) are set to be extended from their current expiry date of 30 June to allow further planning and consultation with all affected parties before the longer-term future of any control measures is decided.

The end date is being considered and the extension will be for no later than the end of September. Confirmation of the extension will be posted on the caulerpa webpage and advised through this newsletter. www.biosecurity.govt.nz/caulerpa

Small patch of exotic caulerpa found at Omaha Cove/Leigh Harbour

On Friday 7 June, divers carrying out routine high-risk site surveillance for Auckland Council found a single, small (approximately one metre across) patch of suspected exotic caulerpa in shallow water in Omaha Cove near Leigh.

This has since been confirmed as exotic caulerpa by NIWA’s taxonomic experts.

Auckland Council, Ngāti Manuhiri and University of Auckland divers have taken swift action and have had the small area treated with chlorine and covered with tarpaulins. This is a method that has proved useful for removing small areas of exotic caulerpa.

Divers will check surrounding areas for any signs of the unwanted seaweed.

Waiheke Island surveillance trials and community hui

The Boxfish ROV with camera on board.  Photo: Leigh Tait, NIWA

In recent weeks NIWA has been testing techniques to improve surveillance for exotic caulerpa. This has included testing advanced towed (TOV) and remote operated (ROV) camera systems with artificial intelligence to scan imagery and spot caulerpa in near real time. Ngāti Pāoa is working in partnership with NIWA on this project and the work finishes this week.

A hui is set down for Sunday 30 June, 2pm, at Piritahi Marae to outline the work that’s been carried out in Waiheke Island waters. All are welcome to attend.

Accelerated programme update

Work continues in the projects to develop and test technologies to find and treat/remove exotic caulerpa.

Field work is expected to be completed by 30 June and a reporting process will follow. Any reports published will be linked in future editions of this newsletter.

Nāku noa, nā

The Caulerpa response team

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