Ngāti Manuhiri Settlement Trust (the Trust) is launching Mahere Ārai Moana Raumati, a summer marine monitoring programme to ramp up efforts to fight the invasive seaweed, exotic caulerpa, in Te Moananui-ā-Toi / Hauraki Gulf.
Exotic caulerpa, discovered near Kawau Island in July, is a foreign seaweed that forms dense mats across the seabed, smothering native plants and disrupting the fragile marine ecosystem that our kai moana, like crayfish and scallops, rely on.
The programme sits under Te Au ō Moana, the Trust’s wider oceans strategy for all issues related to the marine-ecosystem. The summer programme will be an extension of the Trust’s efforts which began in July this year when Te Wero Nui was launched to raise awareness of the discovery of caulerpa in Te Moananui-ā-Toi.
“We are incredibly concerned at the pace with which officials have responded to this biosecurity threat so are taking steps to stop it from having an irreversible impact,” says the Trust’s Chief Executive Nicola MacDonald.
“For the past six months we have led work to combat caulerpa and endeavoured to work with officials, but we are no longer willing to wait for reports and hui before decisive action is taken.”
The Trust is now expanding its efforts to protect all aspects of Te Moananui-ā-Toi with Te Au ō Moana and users within the rohe should expect to see more of them in and around the moana this summer, beginning this Thursday 21 December.
Te Au ō Moana includes the creation and distribution of informational resources, boats on the water to assist as needed, disposable bags for boaties and fishers to handle caulerpa if it’s found, and informational resources to support all users of Te Moananui-ā-Toi.
“Caulerpa is a massive threat to the region’s rich biodiversity. We do not have the luxury of time, we must act. We hope the government sees this as a call to act faster and with more care when it comes to protecting our habitats and marine life,” says Nicola MacDonald.