Volunteers help survey for marine pests
Monday 23 June, 2014
Volunteers from the Corner Inlet Seagrass Monitoring Project have joined forces with Parks Victoria to conduct marine pest surveys in Corner Inlet Marine National Park.
The group headed to Tin Mine Cove recently and combined snorkel surveying with walks along the rocky shore to search for marine pests. Target species included the Northern Pacific Seastar, New Zealand Screw Shell and the Pacific Oyster that have been found within Tidal River in Wilsons Promontory National Park. Marine pest surveys and seagrass monitoring are part of Parks Victoria’s Sea Search Program.
Parks Victoria Marine Project Officer, Shannon Hurley praised the volunteers for helping to protect the marine national park.
“The enthusiasm and skill level that volunteer and community friends groups continue to provide is remarkable and invaluable. It is great to have extra eyes out in the field whether collecting data or searching for marine pests and these efforts are valued immensely by Parks Victoria staff,” she said.
“Marine pests are highly invasive non-native animals that can cause significant damage to the health of native marine ecosystems by competing for space and food resources. These pests can move around by natural dispersal or hitch a ride on vessels, or other aquatic equipment including diving, snorkelling and fishing gear.”
A New Zealand Screw Shell was found by a team of volunteers during the survey. New Zealand Screw Shells are known to have spread to all Victorian waters east of Wilson’s Promontory; however there have only been minimal confirmed sightings within Corner Inlet.
“The knowledge gathered about the presence of marine pests within marine national parks and sanctuaries allows Parks Victoria to manage these places accordingly. Currently there are no effective management techniques to remove New Zealand Screw shells, but understanding their impact is important.
“Everyone can help protect these special places. Boaters, divers, fishers or anyone using aquatic equipment within our waterways, are encouraged to follow hygiene procedures to reduce the potential spread of these highly invasive marine pests and report suspect sightings,” said Miss Hurley.
“We ask all watercraft users to be vigilant about washing their vessels, trailers and associated equipment in freshwater and allowing them to dry before re-entering the water. It is important not to remove any suspect marine pests as many look similar to native species,” she said.Sightings of marine pests that are new to an area should be reported to DEPI by calling 136 186. Please note the location and include a photo for identification if possible. For further information on marine pests and their identification visit www.depi.gov.au.
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