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Time to Check, Clean, and Dry

Media Release - 10 December 2014

The Otago Regional Council (ORC) is supporting the Freshwater Pest Awareness campaign and encouraging everyone who use Otago’s rivers, streams, and lakes to always CHECK, CLEAN, and DRY clothing and equipment when moving from one waterway to another, to eliminate or reduce the spread of freshwater pests.

The campaign focuses on kayakers, canoeists, jet boaters, pleasure boaters, anglers and fly-fishers, as well as trampers, hunters, swimmers and drivers of campervans and off-road vehicles. ORC actively supports this message throughout Otago via its upcoming summer campaign.

ORC director environmental operations and monitoring Jeff Donaldson says council’s aim is to make people more aware of the dangers posed by the spread of the two major freshwater pests currently in Otago - didymo and lagarosiphon - and encourage them to do the right things to reduce their spread.

Lagarosiphon, a South African water weed, is currently found in the Clutha catchment, and can spread rapidly. It becomes obvious on the surface and is rather unsightly.

“Left unchecked, these pests can literally choke and clog up waterways and their ecosystems and make recreational use difficult, if not impossible,” he said.

Community support to reduce their prevalence also helps reduce the likelihood that new freshwater pests will establish themselves within the region.

“So when you’re leaving a waterway, it is important that you check to see that you have no plant material attached to your boat and/or trailer, or your clothes and footwear.”

Didymo is also present in a number of Otago waterways and can spread by water being transferred from a contaminated waterway to an uncontaminated one.

“Cleaning wet equipment before you travel from one waterway to another is important, just because you may not be able to see it, that doesn’t mean it isn’t there in microscopic form.”

“Soaking your equipment in a 5% solution of detergent will kill didymo,” he said. “Just as didymo is confined to the South Island, and North Islanders do not want to see it spread there, they have a number of freshwater pests of their own - including Hornwort (a weed found in still and flowing waters of streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds) which we do not want introduced to South Island waterways.”

ORC staff will be moving around the region’s waterways this summer promoting the CLEAN, CHECK, DRY message to all freshwater recreational users, including supplying spray bottles, and information packs.

Mr Donaldson said for more information about CHECK, CLEAN, and DRY, go to the Ministry of Primary Industries website: www.mpi.govt.nz  or the ORC website: http://www.orc.govt.nz/Information-and-Services/Pest-Control/Plant-pests/

For more information contact

Jeff Donaldson
Director environmental monitoring and operations
Otago Regional Council
Ph 03 474 0827 or 0274 357 162

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