BOP Regional Councillor
Preparing for Sea Lettuce
You may have noticed that there are quite large build-ups of sea lettuce in the southern part of Tauranga Harbour, which is quite unusual for this time of year.
Indications are that we can expect El Nino weather conditions this summer, following the last two summers, which were La Nina. El Nino is characterised by a predominance of westerly winds with drier conditions in eastern areas and more rain in western parts of the country. These conditions usually favour sea lettuce growth in Tauranga Harbour.
The last El Nino summer was the 2009/10 summer when 2800 tonnes of sea lettuce were removed from Tauranga Harbour beaches and the Mount Main Beach.
As that there is likely to be a lot of sea lettuce washed up this coming spring and summer, Regional Council staff are working to ensure that a range of sustainable disposal options and sites are available. The main priorities for disposal methods and sites are to avoid or minimise the need to dump at landfill and to minimise cartage distances by having disposal sites close to localities where accumulations of sea lettuce commonly cause problems, such as Ongare Point, Kauri Point, Pahoia, Fergusson Park, Kulim Park, Memorial Park and Welcome Bay.
The current arrangement we have is that we share equally the cost of clean-ups within the Tauranga City with Tauranga City Council. In the Western Bay area, Western Bay of Plenty District Council covers the cost of clean-ups from public facilities such as boat ramps, with all of the rest (e.g. beaches) paid for by the Regional Council.
At the same time, further research is underway on sea lettuce to give insights which may lead to future prevention and management.