Investigating possible new marine pests

An incursion is where an organism, not previously known in New Zealand, has been found and is considered likely to be part of a self-sustaining or breeding population. Re-invasion of a species that has already been eradicated or controlled is considered a new incursion.

The Ministry of Primary Industries has a dedicated team which follows up on suspected new marine pests. In 2013 there were 24 marine investigations carried out. 2671  The incursion team is notified of suspected pests in the marine environment from a number of different sources, including scientists, surveillance programme laboratories, fishers, marine farmers, the general public, other parts of MPI, local government and other specialist groups. A notification usually comes through the Pests and Diseases Hotline which then passes the information onto the appropriate duty incursion investigator. In some cases, investigators will require samples to be submitted by the informant, and these will be sent to the Marine Invasive Taxonomic Service for species identification.

The Investigation and Diagnostic Centre (IDC) is responsible for investigating any suspected unwanted organism. The New Zealand reference diagnostic laboratory, part of the IDC, has a number of diagnostic tools that are used to investigate potential outbreaks of these diseases.  This laboratory is currently looking at iridoviruses of fish, herpes-like viruses of molluscs and molecular tools for molluscan diagnsotics.

  1. http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/biosec/camp-acts/marine-biosec-programme

Last updated at 2:11PM on February 25, 2015