Mediterranean fanworm (Sabella spallanzanii) or ‘Sabella’ is subject to an Exclusion programme as part of the Regional Pest Management Plan 2018. It has only recently been detected in Marlborough and the long term goal is to prevent establishment of this invasive marine pest. The majority of Council’s marine biosecurity programme is focussed on implementing operational activities associated with addressing the risk posed by Sabella.
A key component of the programme are the Rules which relate to the level of bio-fouling being carried on the craft coming into Marlborough waters, and ways Sabella can be destroyed. There is a maximum level of allowable bio-fouling on inward craft given craft with higher levels of bio-fouling are known to have a higher risk of also carrying Sabella.
Unfortunately, if craft have also been frequenting areas of New Zealand where Sabella is prevalent (such as Auckland – including Waiheke Island – and Whangarei Harbour), even with lower levels of fouling, Sabella can easily attached to niche areas without anti-fouling. Irrespective of the level of bio fouling, it is also an offence to be knowingly transporting Sabella into Marlborough.