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10 August 2005
Biosecurity New Zealand is asking whitebaiters and other river users to avoid
Southland's Mararoa and lower Waiau Rivers entirely to avoid spreading
Didymosphenia geminata (Didymo) algae.
The appeal comes as BNZ faces a last minute hitch in imposing a controlled
area on the rivers, which it had hoped to have in place for the start of the
whitebait season on August 15. The controlled area notice is a more formal
measure to contain the algae than the public awareness campaign conducted since
the algae was first identified last October. It will control access to the area
by permit and make it an offence to remove any item from the controlled area
The controlled area will now become effective on 19 August, with permit
applications able to be made from at least a week beforehand.
Didymo response manager Kerry Bodmin said that while the glitch was
disappointing, BNZ was keen to retain the fantastic community support in dealing
with the incursion.
"We had hoped to get the controlled area in place for the start of the
whitebait season, but a last minute hitch meant that wasn't possible. While the
delay is annoying, we know we need to work with the community as much as
possible to find practical solutions.
"Given the massive support we've had from the Southland community, and the
positive response to public meetings we've had in Tuatapere, we're confident
that those using the river know what actions to take to prevent any spread.
"We've conducted an extensive public awareness campaign and many people
outside of Southland now understand the issues. Locals in the know are keen to
spread the word to those who might not be aware of the risk," Kerry Bodmin says.
BNZ urges people to remember three points:
"Any activity which could spread affected river water – even drops of water –
to another waterway, could spread Didymo. It's a microscopic organism – the risk
of spread won't always be apparent,"
Cleaning can be done by soaking and scrubbing all items for at least one
minute in hot (60°C) water, a two percent solution of household bleach or a five
per cent solution of salt, nappy cleaner, antiseptic hand cleaner or dishwashing
detergent. If items can't be cleaned, they should be left completely dry for 48
hours. The 48 hour period starts when the item is completely dry.
A definition of the Controlled Area is attached. Further information on
Didymo is available at www.biosecurity.govt.nz/didymo .
Media contact: Phil Barclay, Senior Communications Adviser, 027 229 9145.
The Controlled Area is defined as:
The area from the outlet of the South Mavora Lake, including the Mararoa
River, the Manapouri Lake Control Structure, the Waiau River from 100 metres
east of Real Journeys workshop jetty and boat ramp to the sea, including the
area 25 metres straight line Euclidean distance from the waters edge of these
The area 100 metres up stream from where all tributaries, streams, creeks and
water ways join the Mararoa River, or the Waiau River from 100 metres east of
Real Journeys workshop jetty and boat ramp to the sea, unless otherwise
In the case of the following tributaries, streams, creeks and water ways, the
controlled area shall extend beyond the 100 metre point from where they join the
Mararoa River or the Waiau River and shall be as follows:
The Controlled Area also includes:
The Controlled Area means that people wanting to use the river need a permit.
It also means and that the movement of any item that has been in contact with
the water in the Controlled Area that could potentially have Didymo on it is not
allowed without a permit. This includes water, footwear, clothing, vehicles,
boats, animals or vegetation or parts of animals and plants, and any inorganic
material such as rocks, soil and gravel.
To get a permit, applicants will need to answer questions about the measures
required to stop Didymo from spreading. It will take a few days for permit
applications to be processed.
Permit application forms will be available from Environment Southland,
AgriQuality and Southland Fish and Game offices in Invercargill, the Department
of Conservation in Te Anau, and the Tuatapere Service Station by the end of the
Not complying with the Controlled Area is also an offence under the
Biosecurity Act 1993, carrying a penalty of up to five years' imprisonment or a
fine of up to $100,000.