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Didymo confirmed in Hawea

29 September 2005

Didymo confirmed in Hawea, Controlled Areas in place for fishing season.

Biosecurity New Zealand is calling for precautions to be taken on all South Island rivers with the confirmation that Didymo has been found in the Hawea River, and a further suspect find from the Travers River in the upper Buller catchment still being analysed.

The Travers find is subsequent to the Buller discovery earlier this week. The Hawea sample was sent to NIWA overnight and was confirmed this morning.

Controlled Areas will be declared on the Buller and Hawea Rivers in time for the fishing season on Saturday. They will require that users of either river do not use the same equipment elsewhere, or introduce items taken from either river to any other waterway. Legal fish caught can be taken home. The Controlled Area already in place in Southland is not affected by the new Controlled Areas.

“We need people to clean their equipment after using any river in the South Island. Equipment can be cleaned in a bleach (2%) salt (5%) or detergent (5%) solution, or let your equipment dry completely, and leave it dry for 48 hours before using it in another river. Equipment should be carefully inspected for clumps or threads of weed before leaving the site, and any found should be left there,” Biosecurity New Zealand didymo response manager Kerry Bodmin says.

“We now have three waterways confirmed as affected. Based on that, it seems likely that Didymo is probably in other South Island rivers that we are yet to find out about. A progressive survey of all South Island rivers is under way, but regardless of the outcome, people will need to take every precaution avoid spreading Didymo.”

BNZ is seeking to raise public awareness about Didymo, and working closely with Councils, Fish and Game, the Department of Conservation and other groups. It is grateful for the support of several organisations in the Buller region to spread the word. Many have already taken voluntary action, and public awareness efforts will continue in coming days.

“Obviously, with fishing season starting and summer nearly here, there will be more people on the rivers, and as well as asking them to take precautions, we would also like them to keep an eye out. They should let us know if they see anything suspect so it can be investigated. The MAF hotline number is 0800 80 99 66,” says Ms Bodmin.

Knowingly spreading Didymo or disregarding the Controlled Area is an offence under the Biosecurity Act 1993. Both offences carry penalties of up to five years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $100,000.

ENDS

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