Recreational users of the region’s rivers and streams are again getting the “check clean dry” message this summer – and it’s taken on greater urgency with the unwelcome arrival in Taranaki of hornwort, another aquatic pest plant.
“Check clean dry” is central to an annual awareness and education drive aimed at helping to prevent the arrival of “rock snot”, or didymo, in the region, and to help prevent the spread of aquatic pest plants such as oxygen weed and now hornwort.
The oxygen weeds lagarosiphon and egeria are already well-established. Hornwort, which rapidly invades freshwater habitats, crowds out native species and impedes drainage and irrigation, was discovered in Lake Rotorangi in May.
“Hornwort’s arrival is a wake-up call for the region, especially those who get out to enjoy the waterways,” says the Taranaki Regional Council’s Director-Operations, Stephen Hall. “Everyone has a part to play in preventing the spread of unwanted organisms like hornwort and oxygen weed, as well as trying to keep didymo from our waterways.”
The didymo algae creates thick layers of brown snotty gunk which covers streambeds and rocks and threatens stream life. It has already become established in the South Island.
All river users are urged to “check, clean and dry” their equipment after they have been in a waterway. A Taranaki Regional Council officer is to visit popular freshwater recreation sites over summer to bring this message to swimmers, anglers, kayakers, boaties and others who enjoy and use Taranaki’s rivers and streams.
People leaving streams, rivers and lakes are urged to:
All items should be cleaned for at least one minute with a 5% solution of dishwashing liquid or nappy cleaner, dried to the touch and left for another 48 hours before use in another waterway. If this is not possible, restrict their use to one waterway.
Information and detergent spray bottles are available at sports shops.
Absorbent items require extra treatment, either with prolonged soaking in water heated to 45 degrees or above, or by being frozen solid. People who hold fishing licences are banned from using felt-soled waders or wading boots when angling for sports fish such as trout. The ban applies throughout New Zealand, including the Taupo fishery.
The Taranaki education campaign will involve personal approaches to river users and sessions with organisations such as clubs. It will continue until late March.
Clubs and other organisations wanting to organise education sessions can call the Taranaki Regional Council on 06 765 7127.
For more information, see www.trc.govt.nz/pest-plants/ and www.trc.govt.nz/didymo-rock-snot-.