The urgent need to halt the spread of marine pests such as Mediterranean fanworm will be the topic of a public meeting at McLeod Bay.

The meeting, on April 7 at the McLeod Bay Hall, has been called by Northland Regional Council after summer dive surveys revealed Mediterranean fanworm on boat hulls and mooring lines at Parua Bay.

A pest that competes with native filter-feeding species like scallops and mussels, the fanworm can heavily foul marinas and other structures and may impact on farmed shellfish.

Council chairman Bill Shepherd said since the discovery by divers contracted by the council, fanworm had also been found on rocky substrates and on the seafloor in the area.

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The pest is common in other parts of New Zealand, including Auckland and was first found in Whangarei Harbour several years ago.

"The regional council, biosecurity experts, marine industry and boaties have been working hard since to try to stop its spread in our region and have implemented a number of initiatives in this regard," Mr Shepherd said.

"However, the unfortunate reality is fanworm is predicted to eventually establish in other bays within Whangarei where the habitat is suitable."