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Stay vigilant for sneaky sea squirts

News article |

The early detection and swift removal of marine pests from a yacht in the Bay Of Shoals has prevented a potential incursion into Kangaroo Island’s pristine marine environment.

Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Minister Ian Hunter said Natural Resources Kangaroo Island (NRKI) staff conducting routine monitoring detected European sea squirts and European fan worms on a vessel recently returned from a Port Adelaide marina.

“The hull of the vessel was completely covered in European sea squirts, which are not known to be established on Kangaroo Island,” he said.

“They are highly invasive and have the potential to smother both structures and the sea floor as well as threaten marine biodiversity and aquaculture industries.

“Attempts by our divers to remove the pests by hand proved to be impossible, due to the sheer numbers and risk of accidently releasing them into the marine environment.”

NRKI worked with Biosecurity SA to carefully treat the vessel with an innovative control method known as the introduced marine pest protector (IMPP).

The protector is a purpose built water tight tarpaulin that is carefully fitted to the hull of the infested vessel and tightened so that the marine pests don’t have access to water.

“It’s like a big cover that traps the marine pests, starves them of oxygen, water and light, resulting in die-off and the successful treatment of the infestation,” Mr Hunter said.

The protector was left on the vessel for two weeks after which all the marine pests had died.

Kangaroo Island Natural Resource Management Board Presiding Member Richard Trethewey said that visiting marine vessels and local vessels returning to the island are reminded to ensure their hulls are free of marine pests before they arrive.

“Surveys conducted last year showed vessels that had been cleaned properly and had maintained the anti-fouling paint, were free from marine pests,” Mr Trethewey said.

“This is what we’d encourage for all visiting yachts and those returning to the island.”

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The Natural Resources Kangaroo Island Catchment to Coast Programme is supported by the Kangaroo Island Natural Resources Management Board, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

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