Fuseworks Media

Biosecurity NZ urges water users to help protect our rivers and lakes

Longer days are here and it’s a great time to enjoy our rivers and lakes – while protecting them from invasive species like the freshwater gold clam.

A new awareness campaign has been launched ahead of Labour weekend, appealing to all water users to play a role in preventing the spread of the clam from the Waikato River, to any other lakes or rivers.

“The new public awareness campaign is a reminder to people of what they need to be doing, which is check clean and dry boats and other gear before moving to other waterways,” says Biosecurity New Zealand director of readiness and response, John Walsh.

“We’re reaching people through radio advertising, which has begun, and we will also be reaching people online and at the river.

“You’ll also see new signs on the river from next week. Fisheries officers and Check Clean Dry ambassadors are already out and about the river and at events with information about the clam, and what you can do to help stop it spreading.”

Freshwater gold clam is an unwanted organism under the Biosecurity Act, which makes following the new Check Clean Dry procedures a legal requirement in waters where it’s known to be – that’s a 99km stretch of the Waikato River from Lake Maraetai and downstream.

John Walsh says elsewhere, it’s still good advice to Check Clean Dry before moving to another river or lake spot, to stop an unwanted hitchhiker catching a ride with you.

“It takes all of us to protect what we have got here in New Zealand, so we all have a part to play in making sure we do everything we can to stop this pest clam from getting into any other river or lake.”

Biosecurity New Zealand continues to work with partners including iwi and councils and recreational groups to manage the clam and on taking practical measures to contain it – including the introduction of boat wash stations.

“The first boat wash station is now operational at Lake Karāpiro, and more are to come, including cleaning station areas in the Bay of Plenty,” says John Walsh.

A Waikato-based coordinator and a team of Check Clean Dry ambassadors have been active since July, working with river and lake user groups, event organisers and people giving permission for events.

“Considerable investment has been made in surveillance to understand the extent of the clam incursion and in public awareness to contain the clam and prevent its spread outside of the Waikato River, which is the only area where it has been found.

“We’re funding surveillance, scientific advice, suppression trials, community liaison including iwi capability building, public awareness campaigns and cleaning stations. To date, we’ve committed more than $2 million to managing this clam,” says John Walsh.

If you think you’ve spotted a gold clam somewhere new, report it on 0800 80 99 66 or by completing the online reporting form at report.mpi.govt.nz. Don’t move it but note the location and provide a close-up photo of the clam as well as one that shows the surroundings.