Protect the Sounds from Marine Pests

With the summer season in full swing, and increased recreational vessel movement around the country, our marinas staff and the local biosecurity team at Marlborough District Council are really ramping up efforts to protect the Marlborough Sounds from marine pests.

This summer the friendly Marine Officers from the Harbour Patrols are raising awareness of the marine biodiversity in the Marlborough Sounds. They would love to find out what information visitors to this area already know, so, if you see them approaching your vessel don’t be alarmed. They just want to have a chat about the amazing biogenic habitats that are in the Marlborough Sounds and ask you a couple of marine environment-related questions. They are also giving out some beautiful postcards with underwater images of the Sounds.

The biggest marine threat to Marlborough is Mediterranean fanworm which is already well established in Auckland and the upper North Island.

Mediterrnean Fanworm detected on a large vessel that had come out of Auckland in January 2020.

If you haven’t prepared your vessel correctly and you’re travelling north, it’s highly likely that you will bring fanworm home with you. Mediterranean fanworm has the potential to be costly to vessel owners, marine farmers and port companies. Its tubes can grow up to 50cm long and produce up to 1000 tubes per square meter. They grow predominately on hard surfaces, including vessel hulls, marine structures and the sea floor.

Incursions of Mediterranean fanworm in the Marlborough Sounds have previously been found following inspections by Council contracted divers. The fanworm were generally in areas that had been missed with antifoul or in high wear areas where the antifoul had rubbed off.

To prepare your vessel please ensure it has been antifouled, ideally within 6 months of your journey. Immediately before you leave the upper North Island or Lyttleton Harbour your vessel should also be lifted and washed to ensure any fanworm that may have attached are removed.

Marlborough District Council has rules in place in the Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) to prevent the establishment of Mediterranean fanworm in Marlborough. Make sure you check out the RPMP Rules on the Marlborough District Council website: by searching ‘Marine Biosecurity’. Additional rules may also apply in other districts so be sure to check them out before setting off on your journey.

If you suspect you have found Mediterranean fanworm please get in touch with Biosecurity Officers at Marlborough District Council, Ph: 03 520 7400 or email

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