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Protecting Fiordland from marine pests wins biosecurity award


13 November 2018

Collective protection of our country’s eighth wonder of the world has led to being the star of the night at the New Zealand Biosecurity Awards.

Environment Southland’s Fiordland Marine Regional Pathway Management Plan was honoured with the New Zealand Biosecurity Supreme Award and also the New Zealand Biosecurity Eagle Technology Local and Central Government Award.

Environment Southland’s Director of Operations, Jonathan Streat paid tribute at the awards to the initiative the team took over a number of years to trial something that had not been done before in New Zealand.

“It’s a huge privilege to accept this win on behalf of tangata whenua, Fiordland Marine Guardians, Environment Southland, and southern and regional councils,” Jonathan said. The Plan aims to protect one of New Zealand’s most unique and nationally significant areas from marine pests being carried in on local and visiting vessels.

It sets out a number of rules and standards that must be met by all vessels entering within one nautical mile of the landward boundary of the Fiordland Marine Area and requires vessel operators to obtain a Clean Vessel Pass.

The Fiordland Marine Regional Pathway Management Plan has been in place for over a year, and implementation has gone well with 290 Clean Vessel Passes issued in the first year to a number of vessels originating domestically and internationally. “With its breath-taking scenery and pristine waters, Fiordland is one of New Zealand's most unique and nationally significant areas - ecologically and economically.

“Proactive management plans like this are essential for managing marine biosecurity risks. Once a marine invasive species has established (especially in a remote area like Fiordland) the costs of eradication are very high, and the chances of success not great,” Jonathan said.

Fiordland is at risk of invasive marine pests from around the globe. Many local and visiting vessels travel through the Fiordland Marine Area, each of them carrying the risk of bringing an unwanted marine pest, which could jeopardise the wellbeing of our country’s treasured area. “This area plays a key role in New Zealand’s tourism industry with its marine area supporting productive fisheries and a unique underwater ecology; it’s vital we protect it,” Jonathan said.

Environment Southland competed against 60 high calibre entries to take out the top prize in this year’s New Zealand Biosecurity Awards. The Awards are held annually with the next round scheduled in late 2019.

Find out more about the awards.