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Close the gate before the algae bolts - Greens

31 October 2006

Close the gate before the algae bolts - Greens

The North Island's Rangitikei River should be immediately closed until it is confirmed whether or not it has been contaminated with the didymo algae, the Green Party says.

Biosecurity Spokesperson Metiria Turei says Biosecurity New Zealand should err on the side of caution to prevent any further chance of this pest spreading.

"There's no point closing the gate after the algae has bolted.

"Didymo has proven that it is able to spread very quickly so we must not sit on our hands awaiting the results of tests. The Rangitikei must be closed as a precautionary measure. If it is turns out that the algae found is in fact didymo then we may well have prevented it spreading further.

"This scare is a timely reminder that with summer approaching we should be upping the ante against this invader. It has already made itself at home in many South Island rivers and with more boaties and fishers out and about in the warmer weather tougher measures should be put in place.

"The current 'spot checks' of fishing gear and boats at Picton could still be allowing this pest to cross the Cook Strait. This measure should be increased over summer to ensure that all that type of equipment is scrutinised and cleaned if necessary.

"Until a more permanent solution is found, the only defence we have is to contain this pest to prevent any further damage to our environment," Mrs Turei says.

ENDS

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