Minister for Biosecurity Damien O'Connor is in Tauranga today at the official launch of newly formed Tauranga Moana Biosecurity Capital.
The minister is speaking at the launch taking part at the Tauranga Yacht Club, which is part a wider symposium this week on biosecurity.
O'Connor, who was welcomed with a powhiri, said he was pleased to officially launch the Tauranga Moana Biosecurity Capital initiative.
"Well you are the trade capital, so you must be the biosecurity capital. That is simply an essential element of New Zealand and our future direction.
"Together we can do more. We have learnt this, sometimes slowly, but it has been proven that by working together and through co-operation we can achieve better outcomes.
"So what I believe we are launching here today is indeed one more show of unity and co-operation, that is more than just shifting responsibility to one particular government department, but responsibility for taking on New Zealand's number one challenge - biosecurity."
About 100 representatives from 19 organisations in the region attended the launch and symposium, including Zespri, Port of Tauranga, the three local councils and local iwi.
Dr Kaeden Leonard is a biosecurity specialist who heads the University of Waikato's biosecurity and surveillance partnership with the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.
Divers are in the harbour every second day checking under boats, pontoons and piers for unwelcome invasive species.
The team is also part of the newly formed Tauranga Moana Biosecurity Capital, which officially launches today as part of a wider symposium this week on biosecurity.
"There definitely needs to be a lot more education out there with regards to how we could be affected. It's not just the marine industry. It's all of us," Leonard said.
Invasive pests could not only wipe out some species but could create additional environmental issues, job losses and loss of business if left unchecked, he said.
There were more than 40 known marine pests in Tauranga waters but Leonard said it was hard to give a specific number due to the classification of some species.
"Fortunately New Zealand has been quite lucky and we've remained free from species that have impacted other countries."