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Check, Clean & Dry Boat Gear to Stop Freshwater Pests

Check, Clean & Dry Boat Gear to Keep Freshwater Pests in Check

Summer is here and nothing beats an afternoon of swimming, fishing, or boating at your favourite local waterway. The Greater Wellington region is renowned for its multitude of sparkling, beautiful waterways and everyone can do their part to help protect them.

The Greater Wellington Regional Council is urging boaties, fishermen, swimmers, paddlers, bikers and off-roaders to check, clean and dry their gear to help stop the spread of aquatic weeds.

The Ministry for Primary Industries Check, Clean and Dry campaign, which is supported by Greater Wellington, is again focussing on containing freshwater pests by calling on all freshwater users to take precautions and avoid transferring pests between water bodies.

Greater Wellington’s Check, Clean, Dry Advocate, Ashley Alberto, says aquatic pest plants such as Didymo (“rock snot”), oxygen weed and hornwort can cause environmental, economic and social problems.

“Once established, they can smother and replace native aquatic plants, affect drinking water supplies and interfere with recreational activities such as fishing, boating and swimming.

“Aquatic pest plants can be spread by a single drop of water or plant fragment. Most people know about the effects of didymo, however, not everyone knows how to Check, Clean, Dry. My goal this summer is to engage with freshwater users and encourage them to keep our rivers and lakes beautiful.”

Obvious items to be checked include boat hulls, internal surfaces, fishing gear, boat trailer and towing vehicles. Careful attention should also be paid to less obvious things such as swimwear and towels, lilos and other inflatable water toys, boots, shoes and waders, lifejackets and anything else that enters the water.

Common cleaning materials such as dish washing detergent can be used to clean gear. A solution of five percent or more detergent will kill pests plants.

In addition to checking and cleaning, drying gear for at least 48 hours is also recommended.

Another tip for freshwater enthusiasts is to carefully plan their trips: sticking to one waterbody per weekend will minimise the likelihood of spreading pests.

“Prevention is better than a cure. And the key to prevention is getting the community and visitors to understand how they play a role in stopping the spread of aquatic pests, says Ashley.”

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