Te Arawa Lakes Trust biosecurity officers will be targeting popular Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes boat ramps to ensure lake users can self-certify that their vessels and trailers are free from freshwater fish and pest plants to help stop the spread of invasive aquatic pests.
The new rules are contained within the Bay of Plenty Regional Pest Management Plan 2020 – 2030, which became operative on 17 December 2020, and aims to ensure that lake users take an active role in protecting the long-term health of the lakes.
Te Arawa Lakes Trust Environment Manager, Nicki Douglas, says any regulations that support the Trust’s work in the biosecurity space are warmly welcomed.
“Our team of hunga tiaki take pride as kaitiaki of the 13 lakes within Te Arawa however, it’s critical that everyone on the lakes takes responsibility. Regardless if they are fishing, water skiing or just cruising around on a stand-up paddle board or kayak, lake users need to check their boats, trailers and gear before and after every trip. Even the smallest piece of weed or tiny fish egg can have devastating effects by creating a major biosecurity issue.
“We (locals and manuhiri) all need to be accountable for our actions; we need to work collectively to protect our beautiful taonga for future generations to enjoy.”
Bay of Plenty Regional Council Biosecurity Manager, Greg Corbett, says everyone benefits from the new rules, designed to prevent the spread of aquatic pest plants and fish that can choke the lakes, making them murky and decimating native species.
“The rules themselves are very much based on common sense and are essentially an extension of the Check, Clean, Dry behaviour that has been promoted nationally for many years.”
Te Arawa Lakes Trust Biosecurity Officers will be located at popular boat ramps around the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes to educate lake users on the new self-certification process and what’s required of them before they head out on the water.
TALT Biosecurity Manager, William Anaru, says they’ve had a great summer so far working alongside the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Department of Conservation to educate lake users on the steps they need to take to help protect taonga species and prevent biosecurity issues.
“The response from the public has been extremely positive and for the most part, boats and trailers have been very clean. It’s important we remain vigilant and continue the good work because one small piece can have devastating consequences – our officers are there to educate and are always happy to help.”
In addition to ensuring that vessels and trailers are free from freshwater pest fish and plants, it’s vital that vessel occupiers ensure that no ballast water (regardless of whether it’s fresh or saltwater) held in the ballast tanks and cargo holds of ships is transported between locations and that trailers aren’t left in the water other than for launching or retrieval.
Self-certification checkpoints have been set up at popular boat ramps around Rotorua and are clearly signposted with forms that should be completed and displayed on the dashboard of the vehicle used to launch the vessel.