Fanworm find at Coromandel

The call for boaties to keep their hulls clean is being renewed following the discovery of more fanworms at Coromandel.

The marine pest Mediterranean fanworms were found before Christmas at Te Kouma Harbour, the bay just south of Coromandel Harbour.

An example of the Mediterranean fanworm.

It follows an earlier discovery of fanworms in Coronmandel Harbour last March.

The council and the Ministry for Primary Industries are concerned about the spread of fanworms on the Coromandel, because they can affect mussel farming operations and take over natural environments.

The March fanworms were found on two barges came from Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour, where fanworms are already well-established.

A pre-Christmas check found two small patches of fanworm at Te Kouma, on a mooring and the bottom of a boat. The latest discovery was made in a follow-up operation to check if any fanworms remained.

“It’s unclear whether these latest finds are related to the earlier discovery in March last year,” says Waikato Regional Council’s animal pest team leader Dave Hodges.

“We are now going to do follow-up checks in more locations to see whether this is a relatively isolated problem or whether fanworms have become more established. We will be meeting with representatives of the local marine farming community to enlist their help in this process.”

While the council is disappointed at finding the fanworms, Dave says it’s not totally unexpected due to the invasive character of fanworms.

“Managing marine pests such as fanworms is technically challenging. We need to work with the local community and stakeholders to address both the current problem and the prevention of more fanworm infestations in the future,” says Dave.

Boaties, particularly those coming to the Waikato from Auckland and Northland where fanworms are established, Can help prevent the spread of the pest by regularly cleaning and antifouling their hulls, says Dave.

“We need boaties to play their role in helping prevent the spread of fanworms and other marine pests so that our precious marine environment and our economy are protected. This pest has potentially serious environmental and economic consequences.”


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