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Promotion highlights aquatic pest risk to lakes

16 December 2005

Promotion highlights aquatic pest risk to lakes

Rotorua lake users are the target of a major summer campaign to keep the lakes free of new aquatic hitchhikers which could eventually degrade water quality.

Boaties, kayakers, water skiers and even people fishing from the shore can put the lakes at risk if they do not clean their boats and gear properly. That’s because they can transfer pest fish and new aquatic weeds in from other lakes.

Environment Bay of Plenty and the Department of Conservation are joining forces over summer to promote the aquatic pest message. Staff from both agencies will visit boat ramps to talk to lake users and make sure they understand the importance of cleaning their boats, trailers and other equipment – and actually do it. The on-the-ground work will be supported with other promotional activities, including posters in camping grounds and at lakeside garages.

“We are putting a lot of effort into getting this message across because it is so important to the future of the lakes,” says Environment Bay of Plenty pest plant coordinator John Mather. Millions of dollars are being spent on the Rotorua Lakes Protection and Restoration Action Programme, “and it would be an absolute disaster if this work improved water quality – only to have it degraded again by new aquatic pests”. The finding of the alga didymo in the South Island has highlighted the risks and their possible consequences, he adds.

Mr Mather says people must make a habit of cleaning their boats and gear every time they leave a lake. “We can’t afford to be complacent. Once new pests are established, they can be almost impossible to eradicate. So prevention is the key.”

Skippers need to inspect their boats, including propellers, anchor chains and trailers. They must remove all weeds, flush out jet units, and wash their boat down if necessary.

All of Rotorua’s lakes are currently free of pest fish, like koi carp and catfish. Some lakes are free of all or several species of aquatic weeds. Lake Rotomahana, for example, does not host any invasive exotic weeds while Lake Rotoma has one species but not the whole range.

Environment Bay of Plenty works in partnership with the Department of Conservation, Te Arawa Maori Trust Board, Rotorua District Council and Eastern Region Fish and Game to manage aquatic pests in the Rotorua lakes.

ENDS

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