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Lethargy and Lack of Vigilance Evident in Lake Slime

Lethargy and Lack of Vigilance Evident in Lake Slime

The outbreak in Lake Wanaka of “lake snow” a still-water relation to didymo which reportedly had invaded South Island rivers for several years to date, has shown an alarming lack of vigilance and a lethargy by authorities says a national trout fishing advocacy.

The New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers (NZFFA) a nationwide organisation of trout fishing clubs, said the reported incursion into Lake Hawea was far from unexpected since the mucous-like algae had been detected 12 years ago in Lake Wanaka which neighbours Lake Hawea.

Spokesman Ken Sims from Manawatu, said the report of a Hawea outbreak was disappointing news since the “lake snow” had turned up in Wanaka in 2004, Coleridge in 2012 and Wakatipu in 2016. Commercial fishing guides taking tourists fishing in Lake Wanaka had virtually given up guiding operations because the lake slime accumulated quickly on fishing lines and lures.

“The time lag of several years is of deep concern. It’s very much a case of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted,” he said.

A spokesman for the Otago Regional Council acknowledged the council had been slow to react, but assured the public that “lake snow” had the council's attention now. The council had recently begun a detailed two-year monitoring programme of the three lakes, (Wakatipu, Wanaka and Hawea) to track the algae's spread. But NZFFA said the call to action was disappointingly belated.

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“What makes it frustrating is that similar slowness occurred back in 2004 when didymo was discovered in Southland’s Waiau River. It has since spread to many South Island rivers,” said Ken Sims.

A Biosecurity NZ spokesperson had told an annual meeting of NZFFA about nine years ago, that didymo was probably present five years previously, i.e. about 1999. “It poses the question as to why it wasn’t picked up in 1999, or soon after, by the Department of Conservation since the Waiau borders the Fiordland National Park or by Southland Fish and Game since it manages the the Waiau trout fishery.”

Soon after the discovery of didymo in 2004 a jet boat marathon was permitted to take place which leap-frogged several rivers after the Waiau thus risking immediate spread. Despite the jet boat series, anglers were blamed for the spread of didymo and then in a knee jerk reaction, felt sole waders were banned.

Ken Sims said in addition to the inconvenience to trout anglers, the outbreak of algae was damaging to New Zealand’s much vaunted “100% pure” image.

“On top of the Havelock North and Pahiatua drinking water contaminations, the news of lake slime is a strong warning that New Zealand cannot be smug about the purity of water, rivers and lakes. Consequently it was disappointing to see on television in the wake of the Havelock North contamination, the Prime Minister shrugging off the contamination and asserting New Zealand was still 100 percent pure,” he said.

Ends.


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