Seastar Alert for Gippsland

We have just had notification by Agriculture Victoria that unfortunately the invasive marine pest, the northern Pacific seastar has been detected in the Gippsland Lakes.

We are asking all fishos that are out on the water on the Lakes to keep a close eye on any suspect seastars and make a report to the authorities noting the location, date and time and a photograph to [email protected]. If you catch one place it in a sealed bag or container and it can be frozen.

The key identification features of the northern Pacific seastar are its five-pointed arms with upturned tips and yellow and purple markings.

One individual was found by a fisher prawning near Wattle Point in January and it is not clear if this individual is a new arrival or if there is a local population. This is the first confirmed sighting of the invasive seastar in Gippsland Lakes since 2015.

The northern Pacific seastar is highly invasive and capable of reaching high densities in invaded habitats. The species is an opportunistic predator that consumes a large variety of prey. In high densities, it can have severe effects on wild and cultured shellfish populations, and on native biodiversity in marine habitats. 

The northern Pacific seastar can be easily transported by currents or relocated to new areas attached to fishing and diving equipment and the hulls of vessels, including kayaks and canoes.

We area also being reminded that equipment used in marine areas should be washed in fresh water after use then thoroughly dried to reduce the risk of spreading marine pests. This is particularly important for people moving any equipment used in Port Phillip Bay to other areas. 

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