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Avoid, Dedicate or Decontaminate river gear

10 August 2005

Spread the word, not the algae: Avoid, Dedicate or Decontaminate river gear.

Biosecurity New Zealand is asking whitebaiters and other river users to avoid Southland’s Mararoa and lower Waiau Rivers entirely to avoid spreading Didymosphenia geminata (Didymo) algae.

The appeal comes as BNZ faces a last minute hitch in imposing a controlled area on the rivers, which it had hoped to have in place for the start of the whitebait season on August 15. The controlled area notice is a more formal measure to contain the algae than the public awareness campaign conducted since the algae was first identified last October. It will control access to the area by permit and make it an offence to remove any item from the controlled area without one.

The controlled area will now become effective on 19 August, with permit applications able to be made from at least a week beforehand.

Didymo response manager Kerry Bodmin said that while the glitch was disappointing, BNZ was keen to retain the fantastic community support in dealing with the incursion.

“We had hoped to get the controlled area in place for the start of the whitebait season, but a last minute hitch meant that wasn’t possible. While the delay is annoying, we know we need to work with the community as much as possible to find practical solutions.

“Given the massive support we’ve had from the Southland community, and the positive response to public meetings we’ve had in Tuatapere, we’re confident that those using the river know what actions to take to prevent any spread.

“We’ve conducted an extensive public awareness campaign and many people outside of Southland now understand the issues. Locals in the know are keen to spread the word to those who might not be aware of the risk,” Kerry Bodmin says.

BNZ urges people to remember three points: The best protection is to avoid the rivers altogether – there are plenty of alternatives The next best is to dedicate equipment specifically for use only in the affected rivers The third is to use the approved cleaning methods on your equipment afterwards.

“Any activity which could spread affected river water – even drops of water – to another waterway, could spread Didymo. It’s a microscopic organism – the risk of spread won’t always be apparent,”

Cleaning can be done by soaking and scrubbing all items for at least one minute in hot (60°C) water, a two percent solution of household bleach or a five per cent solution of salt, nappy cleaner, antiseptic hand cleaner or dishwashing detergent. If items can’t be cleaned, they should be left completely dry for 48 hours. The 48 hour period starts when the item is completely dry.

A definition of the Controlled Area is attached. Further information on Didymo is available at


The Controlled Area is defined as:

The area from the outlet of the South Mavora Lake, including the Mararoa River, the Manapouri Lake Control Structure, the Waiau River from 100 metres east of Real Journeys workshop jetty and boat ramp to the sea, including the area 25 metres straight line Euclidean distance from the waters edge of these rivers; and The area 100 metres up stream from where all tributaries, streams, creeks and water ways join the Mararoa River, or the Waiau River from 100 metres east of Real Journeys workshop jetty and boat ramp to the sea, unless otherwise specified below.

In the case of the following tributaries, streams, creeks and water ways, the controlled area shall extend beyond the 100 metre point from where they join the Mararoa River or the Waiau River and shall be as follows: Wash creek- from the downstream side of the Centre Hill - Mavora Lakes Road Bridge to its confluence with the Mararoa River.

Whitestone River -from the downstream side of the Hillside - Manapouri Road Bridge to its confluence with the Mararoa River. Borland Burn -from the down stream side of O’Brien’s private bridge over the Borland Burn to its confluence with the Waiau River.

Monowai River (residual Monowai River bed) - from the downstream edge of the Monowai diversion weir to its confluence with the Waiau River. Wairaki River- from the downstream side of the Clifden - Blackmount Road Bridge to its confluence with the Lower Waiau River. Dean Burn -from the downstream side of the Lillburn - Monowai Road Bridge to its confluence with the Waiau River. Lillburn River -300 metres upstream from its confluence with the Waiau River.

Holly Burn -from the downstream side of the Tuatapere - Orepuki Road Bridge to its confluence with Waiau River Lagoon. The Controlled Area also includes; The whole of the Waiau Lagoon and the boulder bank between the Lagoon and the sea including the area 25 metres straight line Euclidean distance from the waters edge.

About the Controlled Area:

The Controlled Area means that people wanting to use the river need a permit. It also means and that the movement of any item that has been in contact with the water in the Controlled Area that could potentially have Didymo on it is not allowed without a permit. This includes water, footwear, clothing, vehicles, boats, animals or vegetation or parts of animals and plants, and any inorganic material such as rocks, soil and gravel.

To get a permit, applicants will need to answer questions about the measures required to stop Didymo from spreading. It will take a few days for permit applications to be processed.

Permit application forms will be available from Environment Southland, AgriQuality and Southland Fish and Game offices in Invercargill, the Department of Conservation in Te Anau, and the Tuatapere Service Station by the end of the week.

Not complying with the Controlled Area is also an offence under the Biosecurity Act 1993, carrying a penalty of up to five years’ imprisonment or a fine of up to $100,000.


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