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Aquatic pest campaign makes Rotorua lake safer

MEDIA RELEASE


Success of aquatic pest campaign makes Rotorua lakes safer

For immediate release: Tuesday 10 May 2005

North Island boaties are really getting the message about the risk of new aquatic weeds and pest fish entering the Rotorua lakes. And the lakes are all the safer for it.

Over summer, a survey of 450 boat owners showed that most boaties now know what they must do to stop new pests getting into the lakes – and the vast majority are actually doing it.

More than 70% had purposefully cleared all weeds from their boats before launching to make sure they didn’t transfer unwanted species, which can degrade water quality. That figure has nearly doubled since the summer before, when just 36% undertook the task. The survey also highlighted an increase in general awareness. Just over 80% had heard of the threat, compared to 64% in the earlier survey.

Environment Bay of Plenty’s pest plant coordinator, John Mather says the survey results highlight the “fantastic success” of a two-year inter-agency awareness campaign. It also shows that boaties are very keen to do what they can to keep the lakes safe. “It would be terrible to have done all this other work to improve lake quality – and then find it degraded because a pest fish like koi carp had managed to get into the lake.”

And it looks as though boaties’ efforts have been worth it. An annual monitoring programme, which targets lakes most likely to suffer from the accidental introduction of pest fish, has confirmed that the Rotorua lakes remain free of these species. The monitoring program is undertaken jointly by the Department of Conservation and Environment Bay of Plenty. It has been running for five years and in that time no pest fish species have been found in any of the lakes.

A team of agencies is working together to coordinate aquatic pest management in the Rotorua lakes. They include Environment Bay of Plenty, Department of Conservation, Rotorua District Council, Fish and Game Eastern Region and Te Arawa Maori Trust Board.

Work has involved media promotion, sponsorship of fishing tournaments, banners on state highways, and popular give-aways, such as floating key rings, which bear the “clean your boat” message.

The results of the survey were presented to Environment Bay of Plenty’s operational services committee recently. Other results include:
About 75% of boat owners using the lakes live in the Bay of Plenty
Nearly 20% have travelled from the Waikato and Auckland
Skiing was the most popular activity, with fishing next

ENDS

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