Aquaculture for all

Widespread sea squirt seen as 'real worry'

NEW ZEALAND - Invasive sea squirt is widespread around Port Lyttelton, posing a real threat to Banks Peninsula mussel farms, Biosecurity New Zealand confirmed last night.

Divers yesterday surveyed the port and despite low visibility found several samples of the tiny pest, which has devastated overseas aquaculture industries.

Sea squirt, also known as Styela clava or clubbed tunicate, was confirmed at Port Lyttelton's Gladstone Pier last week. The more extensive searches yesterday showed the pest was widespread, Biosecurity senior marine adviser Brendan Gould told The Press last night.

Edward Aitken, director of several Banks Peninsula mussel farms, last night described the new finds as "very worrying".

"Most of these things can be dealt with, but anything that's going to create an extra workload is going to narrow the margins," Aitken said.

Gould said that a sample taken from the harbour in 2002 by a PhD student had recently been confirmed as sea squirt as a result of publicity about the pest invasion.


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