Government funding welcomed in battle against Caulerpa

23 Feb 2024, 3:50 PM

Today’s funding announcement from government of a $5 million boost to accelerate the fight against exotic Caulerpa seaweed is being welcomed in Te Taitokerau, says Northland Regional Council Chair Geoff Crawford.

"Together with our mana whenua partners, we have been urging the government to step up its investment in getting rid of this devastatingly invasive seaweed, and we’re really pleased to see this funding come through," says Chair Crawford.

The government has announced $5 million of new funding for the exotic Caulerpa response programme, to accelerate the work underway testing potential removal techniques, build understanding of this pest in Aotearoa, and help prevent its spread.

In particular, it will fund further development of large-scale suction dredge technology currently being trialled in Omākiwi Cove, Te Rāwhiti in the Bay of Islands.

The funding announcement follows a visit from Biosecurity Minister Andrew Hoggard to Omākiwi Cove earlier this month to see the suction dredge trial in action.

The suction dredging - a world-first operation developed Andrew Johnson - is being led by Ōpua-based marine contractor Johnson Bros.

Chair Crawford says while existing government funding has enabled the suction dredge trial to get off the ground, the newly announced funding is critical for improving and scaling up the suction dredging operation.

"This is a game-changer, a real opportunity for us to remove this highly invasive seaweed at scale, not just here in Te Taitokerau but in the other places it’s been found too.

"Kaitiaki have been working tirelessly on the ground since this pest was first discovered in the Bay of Islands in May last year.

"This grass-roots approach, coupled with investment in new technologies, gives us a real shot at preventing the spread and the devastating effects of this pest on our moana."

Crane removing Caulerpa with people watching by water.

New government funding will support further development of large-scale suction dredge technology currently being trialled in Omākiwi Cove to remove exotic Caulerpa seaweed.