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Help Sophie keep pests out of our freshwater

Help Sophie keep pests out of our freshwater

Watch out pests, Sophie Ovenden is on a campaign to keep you out of Gisborne and Wairoa waterways.

She is leading an awareness campaign to combat the threat of freshwater pests, including didymo or ‘rock snot’, spreading amongst Gisborne and Wairoa waterways.  Didymo is a microscopic algae that can devastate waterways and can be spread through a single drop of water.

“Didymo is still only found in the South Island. It is not in local lakes and streams yet but every freshwater user needs to take responsibility for keeping didymo out. I am working alongside the biosecurity team at Gisborne District Council, Department of Conservation and Ministry for Primary Industries raising awareness of freshwater pests and the steps required to stop their spread.”

“Didymo can survive a long time in moist conditions out of water. Tramping gear, fishing and swimming equipment as well as items that collect water, kayaks, jet skis and boats (especially the bilge) can be hiding didymo spores.”

The message is ‘check, clean, dry’. Check for, and remove, all plant matter. Clean thoroughly with a detergent based solution. Dry for at least 48 hours before entering a new waterway

“It’s not only Didymo that can be transferred between waterways. Freshwater pest plants like Lagarosiphon (oxygen weed), Parrots Feather and Hornwort all found in and around the North Island can choke waterways and seriously disrupt the ecology of the river or lake. That’s why I am out and about talking to campers, anglers, swimmers and anyone using our fresh waterways. I will be at the Wairoa A&P Show this weekend.”

“As part of an outdoor-loving family I have enjoyed the outdoors all my life and am pleased to see it being looked after for generations to come. I am more than happy to answer any questions about the ‘clean, check, dry’ message. I can also provide cleaning and information resources.”

“I’ve visited several rural schools - Motu, Tiniroto and Waerenga-O-Kuri. This has been the highlight of my internship so far. I love helping to change behaviour so that we can all play a part in preserving our beautiful natural resources for the next generation. It makes me happy to see the kids getting involved too. Pest fish such as Koi Carp and Cat Fish proved a fascinating talking point. But as the kids found out, their presence can be devastating to a waterway’s ecosystem and existing native fish.”

Many people I have spoken with around the district know something about didymo or the clean, check, dry message. They are surprised with just how easily these pests can be transferred between waterways. Think about what you are doing around streams, rivers and lakes and take a few minutes to “Clean, Check, Dry” your gear. This will make a real difference to the future of our precious waterways, preserving them for the next generation. It’s up to us.”

Any unfamiliar plant or fish sightings must be reported to 0800 80 99 66.        


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