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Divers to check for fanworm next week

Divers are due back in Gisborne harbour next week to check if there are any fanworm present, the District Council’s environment and planning committee was told.

The vessel on which the most recent examples of the invasive marine pest were found was a Gisborne one.

Environment and science manager Lois Easton said the visit of the divers had been delayed because of water conditions but they would be in the water to do a full check next week.

Andy Cranston asked if the council knew how easy it was for the fanworm to move from under a boat to under a wharf.

Ms Easton said they were pleased to see that the fanworm had not bred. That was part of the reason they were sent away for scientific analysis.

“We are asking questions as to why we are still finding fanworms if we just have the original infestation discovered in 2015, she said.

“This time around, we are checking very carefully around the wharves where the logging ships berth.”

These berthed very frequently and the council wanted to be very sure there was not a population they had missed.

Even if none was found, the council would have to step up its marine biosecurity on vessels coming into the port.

A report on marine biosecurity would be brought to the next meeting of the committee,

Gisborne was the home port of the vessel found with fanworm on it in autumn.

“We are disappointed that they had not followed appropriate procedures, because it was a vessel that had spent some time in Auckland and Coromandel, which are well-known sites for fanworm.”

When a boat went outside the region, the hull should be cleaned when they came back, she said.

That was where the marine pathway plan they had been talking about for two years would give them some stronger regulatory authority.

MORE WORMS: Another surveillance dive search of the Eastland Port has found four more of the invasive marine pest Mediterranean fanworm (Sabella spallanzanii). Two were found on port structures and the other two on the hull of a pleasure boat. File picture