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Stop jet-boats' high speed contamination

11 October 2005

Stop jet-boats' high speed contamination

Calls for a halt to a planned South Island jet-boat series to prevent the spread of a noxious algae are being supported by the Green Party.

Environment Southland has said it wants the World Jet-boat River Racing event, planned for 15 to 22 October, stopped. It fears the races, to be run on several South Island rivers, will spread the invasive didymo, or 'rock snot', algae.

Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says everything possible must be done to stop the spread of the algae.

"This is like running a nationwide series of calf club days during a foot and mouth scare.

"I'm sure the jet boaters themselves don't want the rivers they enjoy to become gummed up with ugly brown goo, but that's what they're risking.

"The scale of this biosecurity emergency is so great that trampers are being asked to sterilise their gear if they wade across rivers where didymo hasn't even been found yet, which is an appropriate level of risk management until all possible river checks have been completed.

"If that is what is being asked of mere walkers, it seems absurd that a quick-fire series of jet-boat races should be allowed to take place even away from confirmed contamination, and madness when one of the rivers is known to be affected. These races pose a real threat to those rivers that have so far escaped invasion.

"While many people will obviously be disappointed at the cancellation of this international event, the risk of further damage to our delicate environment is just too great.

"At the very least, the race series should be re-organised so it starts in a known-to-be-clean river and moves to the potentially contaminated rivers last. It is essential that decontamination tanks be located where any equipment moves from river to river.

"It takes just a microscopic amount of this algae to be introduced to a waterway for it to become contaminated. This tiny amount could easily be transported in a boat, engine or equipment, despite the best efforts at cleaning by those involved.

"I call on the race organisers to seriously reconsider what they're doing," Ms Fitzsimons says.

ENDS


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