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‘Killer kelp’ removed from top dive site at Popes Eye

Tuesday 28 March, 2017

A new trial off Queenscliff has successfully removed a highly invasive marine pest seaweed from Pope’s Eye in Port Philip Heads Marine National Park. Recent surveys and remote camera work revealed an infestation at the popular destination for divers and snorkelers.

Following the discovery of Undaria pinnatifida, a noxious aquatic species in Victoria, Parks Victoria teams descended to the bay floor to begin removing the kelp, and measure the response to their effort.

Key points:
• Two teams comprising two SCUBA divers, a support snorkeler and a crewed vessel with deckhands removed nearly 200kgs of Undaria in the first trial run at Popes Eye. A second trial was also successful at Portsea Hole.
• This is the first time such a large scale trial has been attempted in Australia’s open waters.
• The kelp, Undaria pinnatifida grows rapidly and forms dense underwater forests, outcompeting native kelp. It can quickly colonise disturbed areas with preference for solid surfaces such as rocks.
• Parks Victoria is reminding people that they can also help prevent the spread of marine pests by:
- Using fresh water to thoroughly wash down boats, other watercraft, fishing gear, wetsuits, swimwear, and other marine equipment after use.
- Dry boats and marine equipment properly before moving to other areas.
- Be particularly vigilant when moving boats or equipment from Port Phillip and Western Port to other parts of Victoria.

Quotes attributable to Mark Rodrigue, Parks Victoria Program Leader – Marine and Coasts 

“Invasive species aren’t just a problem on the land but also pose serious challenges in the waters across Victoria.

“This kind of large scale marine pest removal has not yet been attempted in an open water environment in Australia. The team performed extremely well with innovation and team work contributing to the success of the day.

“More than 90% of plants and animals living in Australia’s southern waters are found nowhere else in the world. Pests such as Undaria can seriously affect habitats, food chains and our enjoyment of the marine environment. Some marine pests are also a risk to human health and affect the social and economic benefits provided by the marine environment.

“The success of this trial will be closely monitored and Parks Victoria will continue to develop effective ways of removing invasive marine pests.”
Sightings of suspected Undaria Kelp outside of Port Phillip should be reported to the Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning on 136 186. 

Media enquiries

Kate Milkins
0437 129 031

Parks Victoria media centre

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