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Check, Clean and Dry still the go this summer

Check, Clean and Dry still the go this summer

For immediate release: Wednesday 24 December 2008

Check, Clean, and Dry is a message you’ll come across if you’re using the Rotorua Lakes this summer.

Environment Bay of Plenty summer students Justin Shervell and Tessa Walmsley are working with two Department of Conservation students to raise awareness about aquatic pests and to promote the Check, Clean and Dry message to lake users.

The four students will be very visible visiting boat ramps, camping grounds and other key sites around the lakes to let recreational lake users aware of the vital need to be vigilant and help keep the lakes cleaner.

Justin said aquatic pests could spread quickly and easily. “At this stage the Rotorua lakes are free from all pest fish and some aquatic weeds,” said Justin. With the summer holidays approaching, the students are aware that vigilance is the key.

“It only takes a fragment of weed to begin the spread of invasive aquatic weeds and pest fish. Lake users should always follow a thorough Check, Clean and Dry process,” Justin said. “This means checking all your equipment for any weed fragments, cleaning with a five percent detergent solution, and drying for 48 hours or more.”

Aquatic pests include weeds, pest fish and didymo, which is an invasive freshwater microscopic alga. Didymo is already established in a number of New Zealand’s South Island rivers, and forms a thick brown layer which smothers rocks and submerged plants on the lake or river bed. These blooms, which are often described as “rock snot,” are a serious threat to native plant and fish, and also to recreational use of the area.

Didymo and invasive aquatic weeds such as Egeria and Hornwort can displace native aquatic life and are a hazard to boating. Pest fish such as koi carp and catfish are also a threat to native wildlife and their eggs are easily transferred on weed fragments.

However, with the influx of visitors expected during summer, the students know that awareness is the key to protecting our lakes from any further aquatic pests this summer.

“A big part of our work is getting the message out among lake users about the damage that aquatic pests can do, and the impact that individuals can make by simply Checking, Cleaning and Drying,” Tessa said.

The publicity and awareness work by the students has been boosted with the introduction of a decontamination trailer for lake and river events. The trailer is an Environment Bay of Plenty and Department of Conservation project and is a complete decontamination drive-through unit for vehicles and boats.

ENDS

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