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River users must check for aquatic hitchhikers

Lake and river users must check for aquatic hitchhikers

For immediate release: Friday 1 December 2006

Bay of Plenty lake and river users are the target of a major summer campaign to keep the region’s waterways free of new aquatic pests, including didymo.

For the past four years, local agencies have joined forces to strongly promote the aquatic pest message around the Rotorua lakes.

However, the discovery of didymo in the South Island has prompted a wider-reaching campaign this year.
With support from Biosecurity New Zealand, Environment Bay of Plenty, the Department of Conservation and Eastern Region Fish and Game staff will be regularly visiting lakes, rivers and streams to talk to boaties, kayakers, fishers and other users. They will be reminding them to clean their boats, trailers, fishing gear, and other equipment after use.

Environment Bay of Plenty pest plant coordinator John Mather says it is imperative that people make a habit of these actions. Otherwise, they put the Bay of Plenty’s waterways at risk.

“We are putting a lot of effort into a regional campaign this summer because it is so vital to the future of our waterways. We have worked hard for the last few years to raise awareness about aquatic pests and weeds, and it’s been very successful. But now, with didymo, the consequences are even more devastating. Didymo is so invasive it could potentially turn our waterways into a gooey mess.”

Overseas visitors and people from the South Island are a major risk group. They must take special precautions, Mr Mather says, including cleaning items like waders in a dishwashing detergent solution.

However, people should clean their gear when moving between North Island waterways too. “There’s no guarantee that didymo is not already in the North Island. It can transfer very easily. It’s microscopic and invisible, and can survive in a small pool of water or in a damp wader’s sole.”

The Rotorua lakes are also vulnerable to aquatic invaders, Mr Mather points out. All of Rotorua’s lakes are currently free of destructive pest fish species, like koi carp and catfish. Some lakes are free of all or several species of aquatic weeds.

“You must always check your boat and equipment for weed fragments if you’re moving between lakes. It only takes one strand of weed to start off a new infestation - and weeds can harbour fish eggs too. We can’t afford to be complacent. Once new pests are established, they can be almost impossible to eradicate. So prevention is the key.”

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

What can you do?

- Check your boat, trailer and all gear for aquatic weed fragments after use
- Always check and clean before moving to a new lake, river or stream
- Soak or spray gear with a dishwashing detergent solution to kill off didymo. This is vital if you’ve used it in the South Island or overseas.


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