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Updated 08.03.10

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Recent News...

 

Introduction of Bladder Kelp Seaweed, Macrocystis Pyrifera (KBB), in Fisheries Management Areas 3 and 4 into the Quota Management System on 1 October 2010

Bladder kelp consultation opens
 
Ministry of Fisheries media release
 
The Ministry of Fisheries has today released a consultation paper on catch limits for “attached” bladder kelp on the east coast of the South Island and on the Chatham Islands.   
 
The government announced last year that bladder kelp attached to substrate - usually the sea floor - in these areas would be introduced to the Quota Management System (QMS) on 1 October 2010.
 
“Seaweeds play an important role in the aquatic ecosystem, providing food, habitat and shelter for other marine animals,” said Leigh Mitchell, Ministry of Fisheries Inshore Fisheries Manager. “Internationally seaweeds also support sometimes large and highly valuable sustainable fisheries. 
 
“The consultation paper contains a range of catch limit options for bladder kelp in the two areas. The options have been developed after careful review of the best available information and are deliberately cautious to ensure sustainability, given the ecological importance of this species, while allowing opportunity for development.”
 
The consultation process will run for six weeks to provide people with a good opportunity to have their say on the catch limits proposed.
 
Submissions close on 15 April 2010. For the consultation documents, including a map of the relevant areas, see 
http://www.fish.govt.nz/en-nz/Consultations/Setting+of+Management+Controls/default.htm?WBCMODE=presentationunpublished%
 
The government is likely make a decision in the middle of this year.
 
Background
 
Bladder kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera, also known as giant kelp, is a brown seaweed that forms extensive undersea forests.  Plants can grow from depths of 30 metres to the sea surface where they form extensive floating canopies.  
 
It is found in many areas of both the northern (Alaska, California) and southern (South America, New Zealand) hemispheres and is usually attached to the rocky ocean floor. 
 
It is the fastest growing organism on Earth, and can reach up to 60 metres in length in the northern hemisphere in one growing season. This is the time when environmental conditions such as light and nutrients are at their optimum levels that encourage kelp growth.
 
Bladder kelp grows more slowly in the southern hemisphere than the northern hemisphere but can still achieve between one and 15 millimetres a day and heights around 30 to 40 metres. 
 
In New Zealand the species is distributed patchily, but its range extends from Cook Strait southwards and around the Chatham Islands. 

 


Article on two rare seaweeds discovered in Northland

"Rare seaweeds discovered in Northland"

Two rare New Zealand seaweeds have been discovered in Northland, and they could have exciting commercial applications for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

NIWA scientist and seaweed expert Wendy Nelson said one of the red seaweed species, Gelidium longipes, had not been collected for 50 years, and another, Gelidium allanii, had been recorded only from a single site since it was first discovered in 1942.

‘Both species are very distinctive and can be easily distinguished from other New Zealand species. However, they’re small, so it would be easy for the untrained eye to overlook them,’ said Dr Nelson in the latest issue of Aquatic Biodiversity & Biosecurity, released today.

‘Although the naturally occurring populations of the species we’ve found so far couldn’t sustain harvesting, they may contain commercially useful variants of agar that could be the basis for the cultivation of unique new products.

‘Many of these species are found only in very small numbers and have highly restricted distributions. This makes the populations extremely vulnerable to coastal modifications or developments. We use molecular sequence analysis to allow us to work with very small samples and ensure that we don’t over-collect or damage small populations’.

‘We need to live sustainably with our coasts and marine resources. However, there’s still so much we don’t know about the distribution and properties of species around our coastline, and we can only protect what we know is there.’

 

seaweed@wave.co.nz

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Press Releases

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