INVASIVE SEAWEED UNDARIA PINNATIFIDA (MARINE PEST) FOUND IN PORT WELSHPOOL

Media Release

Friday 7 September 2018 | Media contact: Bronte Ryan - 0409 255 140
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Marine pest found at Port Welshpool

Undaria pinnatifida, also known as Japanese Kelp or Wakame, has been found at Port Welshpool.

Dr Rosa Crnov, Chief Plant Health Officer with the Department of Economic Development Jobs, Transport and Resources said this is the first detection of the species outside of Port Phillip Bay and the Apollo Bay harbour.

“The introduction and spread of Undaria is often associated with human activity. It is likely that it was introduced to Port Welshpool via the hulls of vessels coming from Port Phillip Bay.

“Undaria is a significant fouler of port infrastructure and the hulls of vessels.

“It can change the environment as it colonises new areas by creating seaweed cover in previously open habitats,” she said.

Dr Crnov said the eradication of marine pests is very challenging and usually only succeeds when pests are detected very early and are present in contained situations.

“Unfortunately, the infestation at Port Welshpool is large and appears to have been spreading within the port area for some time.

“Complete removal of the infestation from Port Welshpool is not feasible however, it is important to stop it from spreading to other areas such as the largely pristine waters of Wilsons Prom.

She said many boats launch from Port Welshpool and travel to locations such as Refuge Cove but also further out to Lakes Entrance.

“All users of the marine environment have a role to play in preventing the spread of marine pests.

“Marine pests can be microscopic in size at early growth stages, so people may not even realise they’re transporting them on their boat or equipment,” she said.

Dr Crnov said to help stop their spread, people should practice good vessel hygiene through the ‘Check, Clean, Dry’ method.

Good vessel hygiene means:

1. Check any equipment and vessels that have been in marine waters for pests

2. Clean them in freshwater

3. Dry the equipment before moving to a new marine location.

Owners of resident vessels can maintain good vessel hygiene by regularly inspecting and cleaning their vessels out of the water and applying antifouling coating. This also improves vessel performance by reducing drag and fuel consumption.

Suspected sightings of marine pests outside of their known distribution should be made immediately to marine.pests@ecodev.vic.gov.au or call 136 186. Reports should include a photograph, location and date of sighting.

Quotes attributable to Rosa Crnov, Chief Plant Health Officer, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources.

“Undaria is a significant fouler of port infrastructure and the hulls of vessels. It can change the environment as it colonises new areas by creating seaweed cover in previously open habitats”.

“Marine pests can be microscopic in size at early growth stages, so people may not even realise they’re transporting them on their boat or equipment. To help stop their spread, practice good vessel hygiene through the ‘Check, Clean, Dry’ method.”

Millie Kelly