Porthole offers view of marine pests in our waters

A new web portal offers a previously unseen record of the marine pests that threaten New Zealand's marine environment.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) have together developed "The Marine Biosecurity Porthole" - a web-based portal that provides public access to information on unwanted marine pests and other non-native marine organisms that have been recorded in our waters.

The New Zealand Marine Pest Porthole houses data from the MAF-funded marine surveillance programmes, NIWA's Marine Invasives Taxonomic Service (that identifies marine specimens) and other verified observations.

Examples of pest species featured include the Styela clava sea squirt, the Mediterranean fanworm Sabella spallanzanii and the Pyura sea squirt – all of which have been subject to management work by MAF, NIWA and wider communities.

The portal was developed in conjunction with web development company SilverStripe, the portal is based on the freely available Open Source tools developed for NIWA's Oceans Survey 20/20 portal, which support the rapid development of map and catalogue based web portals such as this one.

MAF's Manager of Marine Surveillance Simon McDonald says the portal will be useful for a range of people and organisations with an interest in protecting the marine environment.

"This portal will enable those people to find the most current information on what has been recorded in our waters and where those pest species have been detected.

"Both MAF and NIWA hold a wealth of information from over 10 years of MAF-funded, NIWA-run surveys in ports and marinas around the country," says Mr McDonald.

"Since 2001, NIWA and other research providers have completed 43 baseline surveys of ports and marinas throughout New Zealand where vessels enter from overseas as part of MAF's marine surveillance programme. These surveys provided information about both indigenous and non-indigenous species present in those locations. In addition, NIWA surveys high-risk locations twice-yearly for key unwanted pests. This work is funded on an ongoing basis as a part of MAF's surveillance programme.

"Now this information is collated in one easy-to-access location."

NIWA Aquatic Biosecurity Programme Leader Graeme Inglis, says the portal features a web-mapping application that allows users to view sites surveyed around New Zealand and distribution records for individual species.

"It also gives access to information on significant marine pests and a metadata catalogue allowing search and download of information and reports."

"We're very excited that this important information is now so accessible to those who need it. We see this as an on-going project that will incorporate new data and information as it becomes available." says Dr Inglis.

The Marine Biosecurity Porthole is at: http://www.marinebiosecurity.org.nz/

For further information, contact:

MAF - Lesley Patston, Senior Communications Adviser, Ph 029 8940163

NIWA – Barb Hayden Chief Scientist Biodiversity & Biosecurity, National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research , Phone (64 3) 343 7878

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The new website provides public access to information on unwanted marine pests and other non-native marine organisms that have been recorded in our waters.