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Boaties warned to clean boats

MEDIA RELEASE

Boaties warned to clean boats

For immediate release: Wednesday 22 December

Skippers will put the Rotorua lakes at risk if they don’t clean their boats this summer.

Recreational boaties are warned to check their boats, trailers and fishing gear for aquatic weeds when they leave a lake and before entering a new one. If they don’t, they could be responsible for introducing pest fish or new aquatic weeds into the water, with potentially devastating consequences, says Environment Bay of Plenty pest animal officer David Moore.

It only takes a single fragment of weed to transfer the eggs of pest fish or cause a new infestation of aquatic weeds, he says. “One weed on one boat could do it – and we can’t let that happen.”

The efforts of diligent boaties have so far kept Rotorua’s lakes free of pest fish like koi carp and catfish. But koi carp is well-established in the Waikato, “and that’s far too close for comfort”, Mr Moore says, especially with so many Waikato boaties visiting the lakes over summer.

He urges skippers to always carefully inspect their boat, including anchor and propeller, their trailer and any fishing gear. They also need to flush out jet units. “I can’t stress enough the importance of these actions,” Mr Moore says. “We can’t afford to get complacent. It must become a habit – something you do automatically every time you get to the top of the boat ramp. Unless your boat is used only in one lake, the risk is always there.”

Over Easter, a survey of 100 boaties revealed two-thirds had checked or cleaned their boats before launching them. Fifteen percent did not check their boats because they only ever used them in one lake. That meant 15% of boats did not get checked and potentially posed a risk to the lake environment.

Koi carp were probably brought to New Zealand with stocks of goldfish. Wild stock is thought to have escaped from ponds. Koi carp degrade water quality and are a serious threat to native freshwater marine life. They grub for food from the bottom sediments of lakes and ponds, uprooting plants and stirring up the water, which reduces water quality. You can be fined up to $5000 for possessing or rearing them.

Environment Bay of Plenty works in partnership with the Department of Conservation to keep the region both koi carp and catfish free. Between December and February, they jointly monitor the Rotorua lakes for the pest fish.

ENDS

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