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Published: 2013-09-27 00:00:00

In the 2012-13 Regional Pest Management Strategy (RPMS) annual report adopted yesterday, the council highlighted its partnership with the Ministry for PrimaryThe swift and successful response to a marine pest threatening Coromandel mussel and oyster farms is just one of the significant successes chalked up by the Waikato Regional Council’s biosecurity team this year.

Industries and local marine farmers to manage an infestation of Mediterranean fan worm at Te Kouma in Coromandel harbour in April.

The discovery of fanworm on two barges in the harbour triggered the region’s first ever marine biosecurity incursion response. Because the invasive fanworm can smother shellfish, it posed a real threat to the livelihoods of marine farmers in the area.

The fanworm was hand picked from the hulls of the barges which were then returned to Auckland. The harbour is now clear of fanworms but will be monitored for signs of the pest for the next three years.

But the recent discovery of a Mediterranean fanworm in Tauranga Harbour highlights the need to manage the pathways by which marine pests spread around New Zealand.

Further highlights of work undertaken during the year included:

  • Aerial possum control results at Waikite Valley and Port Waikato, where no possums at all were caught after treatment. Very low catch rates were reported at a range of other sites. Control over a key, 150,000 hectare section of north-west Waikato was completed, meaning that area will have extended protection from the damage that possums do to pasture, crops and the environment.
  • The successful trial of a koi carp trap and digester at Lake Waikare. The trap and associated fish digester turned 12 tonne of pest fish into six tonne of high quality fertiliser, creating New Zealand’s first pest fish recycling facility.
  • The attainment of a 20 year region-wide consent to enable spraying of aquatic pests, such as alligator weed, without the need to apply for a consent on a site by site basis for any new infestations found. The change will save money and increase efficiencies for ratepayers. Meanwhile, two large new land-based sites of alligator weed were found near Hamilton as a result of surveillance measures put in place, and overall, good progress is being made on reducing the density of the plant at known sites.

Biosecurity-Heritage group manager John Simmons said working with other stakeholders and the wider community on pest control has been assisted by the availability of Waikato River Authority funding to assist with koi carp, river and catchment clean-up efforts.

“Our pest plant officers have been instrumental in raising awareness and working closely with iwi and community groups on riparian restoration initiatives in particular,” Mr Simmons said.

The report noted that 18 significant natural area projects were under active management, mostly in partnership with private landowners. These areas included geothermal areas (Taupo), wetlands and lakes (West Coast and Hikuwai, Coromandel) and potential biodiversity ‘corridors’ at Mt Karioi and in the Waipa River catchment.

The council also adopted the new 10-year Regional Pest Management Plan.

The council had earlier received 60 submissions after the plan was proposed.

As a result of those submissions, Japanese walnut in high value biodiversity sites has been included as a pest plant species, while tutsan, a relatively new pest plant species spreading from the south, is one the council has identified as a primary target for landowners to address. It is a very invasive species that poses a serious threat to productive land. Investing in control now will avoid significant costs in the long-term.

Also, wild red-eared slider turtles are now declared a pest in the Waikato region. This change doesn’t prevent people from owning a turtle but does give the council the ability to control red-eared slider turtles in the wild.

The new plan can be viewed online at www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/rpmp-review

The opportunity to file appeals on the plan will close on 24 October 2013.