26 September 2023

Caribbean stowaway an unwelcome guest

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Boat owners are being urged to keep their hulls clean to minimise the spread of an exotic marine pest recently detected in Queensland.

General Manager of Biosecurity Queensland, John Robertson said the white colonial sea squirt (Didemnum perlucidum) was an invasive species from the Caribbean that had established itself in interstate Australian waters over the past decade.

“It’s not possible to eradicate this pest, and while its impacts in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and NSW are not considered major, we don’t want it getting a foothold in Queensland,” Mr Robertson said.

“This detection, along with other recent isolated marine pest detections in Queensland highlights the ongoing threat of marine pests and the importance of ongoing surveillance activities.”

Mr Robertson said the sea squirt attached itself to submerged and floating infrastructure such as pylons, pontoons, boats and buoys and could overgrow native marine species.

He said boaties should maintain regular maintenance and cleaning of their vessels to prevent spreading the pest, including applying antifouling paint, cleaning the boat in a dry dock or slipway and generally looking out for any attached pests.

“Biosecurity Queensland will continue to monitor the extent of this species through the Q-SEAS marine pest program, and work closely with port authorities and maritime industries to minimise impacts,” Mr Robertson said.

“If you see a suspicious marine organism please report it to Biosecurity Queensland.”

More information on the white colonial sea squirt and other marine pests can be accessed at this PS News link.

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