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Re Northern Advocate story "Fanworm farm raises concerns" (November 23).

The implication that the vessel Acheron introduced this pest is completely false and baseless. At least two previous vessels have been found with fanworm inside Tutukaka within the last year.

From August 2014 until April 2015 a vessel was renting a berth in the Tutukaka Marina on K Pier. She was hauled out in Tauranga and was found to have several hundred large and mature fanworms on its hull. That vessel had spent the past nine months in the Tutukaka Marina, including winter and spring when the fanworm is known to spawn.

That April finding was the first discovery of fanworms on a structure anywhere outside Whangarei Harbour. An NRC Biosecurity team subsequently found three juveniles on Tutukaka Marina structures. A couple of searches since have also found fanworm on more than one occasion in Tutukaka.

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A diver went down and cleared the Acheron hull after purchase in February, and prior to her arrival in Tutukaka, as the Tutukaka Trust had informed us she was high risk. Once here, she was slipped within one week, and inspected by the Northland Regional Council.

She was found to be clear, and was on the hard for four weeks during March - fanworm cannot live out of water for that long.

All steps were taken, and protocols met, as we prepared to welcome her to her new home.
She was brought back to Tutukaka clean. Acheron was infected in our home marina, and this is of huge concern to Dive! Tutukaka.

The NRC Biosecurity team have informed us that we do not pose an immediate threat, and we have been working proactively and closely alongside their team to address this issue.

The story also mentions Tutukaka Marina Trust member Ian Russell's concern that, given the Acheron's history, it had not been flagged as a danger before being brought into Northland. Mr Russell may not have been aware of the risk but other trustees were, as one of the trust members is a past owner of the Acheron.

Kate Malcolm
Acheron co-owner