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Boaters Asked to Help Halt Spread of Asian Kelp


Contact:  Gloria Sandoval (916) 651-5692
cell (916) 715-1657

September 22, 2009

SACRAMENTO – Federal, state and local agencies are urging boaters, marina and yacht club operators, and the general public to help halt the spread of Asian Kelp. This aquatic invasive species, also known as Undaria pinnatifida, has been found in San Francisco Bay and Pillar Point Harbor (Half Moon Bay).

“As far as we can determine at this point, the infestations are small, but the populations include many large, reproductive adults, which appear to have already spawned,” said Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) scientist Chela Zabin. “If we take swift action, we may be able to prevent this from spreading further and avoid economic and ecological damages.”

Asian Kelp can grow on ship hulls, nets, fishing gear, moorings, ropes, docks and other marine structures. Although it can spread short distances on its own, invasions have been linked to boating traffic.

All boaters and anyone who accesses the San Francisco and Half Moon bays are being asked to take the following steps to halt the spread of the Asian Kelp:

  • Report any observations of this kelp to SERC.
  • Identify the exact location.
  • If possible, remove the kelp and send photographs to SERC to confirm identity.
  • Store the sample in a plastic bag in a cooler or refrigerator until its identity has been confirmed.
  • Avoid moving contaminated (infected) vessels or equipment.
  • Clean boats before moving or returning home. Specifically:
    • Clean boat hull, underwater running gear, and internal seawater systems before traveling beyond home region, especially if visiting major ports, international waters, islands or event with boats from many places.
    • Clean the boat again before moving to another region or returning home.
    • If boat is heavily fouled after such trips, haul it for cleaning upon arrival and contain the fouling growth.
    • Drain livewells, bait tanks and bilge water before traveling and before returning.
    • Do not throw the kelp back in the water.

Because of its prolific growth and large size, the Asian Kelp can quickly foul natural and man-made structures, causing economic and ecological damage. It also competes for light and space with native populations of marine algae, plants and animals, drastically affecting native ecosystems.

The California Department of Boating and Waterways, and scientists from the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the California State Lands Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are working with SERC to carefully delineate the boundaries of the current populations while engaged in a manual removal effort and educate the public on this aquatic invasive plant.

This invader has been in Southern California since the year 2000. It has spread into the harbors of Channel Island, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Monterey, Oceanside, Pt. Hueneme, Santa Barbara and Santa Catalina, and into the bays of Mission and San Diego.

Additional information about how to prevent the spread of the Asian Kelp and other saltwater aquatic invasive species, or how to order educational material, or to volunteer for removal and survey efforts may be found on www.dbw.ca.gov or by contacting (415) 435-712, sercundaria@si.edu.

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