Recent surveys in the coastal Victorian town of Inverloch show that the concerted January 2004 emergency response by the Department of Sustainability & Environment (DSE)and over 300 volunteers appears to have prevented a spread of the Northern Pacific Seastar – a ‘voracious predator of shellfish’.
Locals and DSE officers reported finding seastars washed up at the inlet entrance. Ingrid Holliday, from DSE Melbourne, organised the intensive ‘incident control’ response:
1)The community was told about the seastar threat – it could not be allowed to spawn and spread in the following cold June temperatures;
2)The local diving community swung into action to locate colony;
3)Once located there was a sustained effort by hundreds of volunteers, in boats, on beaches, in the water spent endless weekends removing the seastar;
4)Boats, safety equipment, search gear and food were all marshaled for support;
5) Local and Melbourne media followed the progress of volunteer diving, giving a profile to what can sometimes be an under rated problem.
Divers, boat drivers, the Red Cross, SES, the Surf Life Saving Club, commercial fishers, beachcombers, the local Environment Committee, the Rate Payers’ Association, local businesses and various government agencies all contributed and recent surveys have shown promising results. The few seastars remaining are all the same age class, meaning the June spawning was prevented.
The Seastar 2004 Community Team was awarded a Victorian Coastal Award for Excellence for this act of coastal conservation and protection.
FOR MORE INFO CONTACT: Ingrid Holliday DSE Melbourne 03 9637 8436