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8 December 2005.
Biosecurity New Zealand has strengthened Didymo control efforts with a South
Island-wide Controlled Area, enhanced public awareness activity and a $1
million summer research programme into potential control tools, but personal
responsibility remains the key tool in reducing its spread.
Biosecurity New Zealand Director Post-clearance Peter Thomson says the
revised strategy still relies on all freshwater users doing the right thing:
"Nothing we can do cancels the need to clean between waterways anywhere
in New Zealand. It applies to everyone, everywhere, everytime."
The new Controlled Area replaces all existing Didymo Controlled Areas and
comes into effect tomorrow (Friday 9 December 2005), making it a legal
requirement to clean items that have been in contact with lakes and rivers when
leaving the South Island and before entering another waterway.
Spot checks at entry and exit points will be conducted, and the need to
clean with Biosecurity New Zealand-approved "soak-scrub" cleaning
"Extending the Controlled Area to the whole of the South Island
acknowledges how big this issue is. The idea is to get ahead, rather than play
catch up. To restrict access locally every time a new river is found to be
affected is not a sustainable option. Didymo could survive in more than half of
New Zealand's waterways, but it is a risk that can be managed if people
Mr Thomson says the strategy acknowledged several factors – that no
known eradication method existed, that no river could be guaranteed
"Didymo free," the inability to police every river activity, and
that responses had to be balanced and mindful of other impacts, including
"Public awareness is our main tool and that campaign is being
strengthened. Didymo is still an unwanted organism, and it is an offence to
knowingly spread it. Breaching the Controlled Area could also result in severe
penalties," Mr Thomson says.
"Extensive efforts to promote the need to clean equipment will use a
"Check, Clean, Dry" slogan. Regular river users such as fishing
licence holders, fishing guides, kayakers, rafters and jetboaters have already
recognised the need with codes of practice. The rest of the country needs to
follow their lead. A $1 million summer research programme will investigate
potential control tools."
Mr Thomson says Biosecurity New Zealand has been aware of the calls for
action made by various organisations and was satisfied a constructive and
cohesive way forward was now in place.
"It's been a complex issue to work through, with many differing
views. We have been grateful for the robust input from stakeholders which has
shaped our management response".
"Reducing the spread of Didymo will be a team effort, involving all
river users in New Zealand. Biosecurity New Zealand will continue to work with
stakeholders and the tools they have to strengthen our effort to slow the
spread of this pest. We anticipate some organisations will put in place extra
measures to protect high value sites based on local knowledge of their areas
and we support that," Mr Thomson says.
Media contact: Phil Barclay, Senior Communications Adviser,
027 229 9145.
In making management decisions, Biosecurity New Zealand has to be mindful of
Penalties under the Biosecurity Act 1993 for knowingly spreading Didymo or
breaching the Controlled Area conditions are a fine of up to $100,000 and/or up
to five years' in prison.
Biosecurity New Zealand will be erecting "Check, Clean, Dry"
signs at known affected rivers and elsewhere, and Controlled Area signs at main
access points to the South Island, including airports and Cook Strait ferry
terminals. River patrols will also be conducted.
Biosecurity New Zealand-approved cleaning methods for the South Island
Controlled Area are:
Use of alternative methods would mean the user was in breach of the