With the duck shooting season getting underway this Saturday 5 May, duck shooters are being reminded of the need to stay safe while in boats or near the water.
"Everyone in a boat should wear a lifejacket," said Waikato Regional Council's navigation safety programme manager Nicole Botherway.
"Lifejackets are worth their weight in gold if they stop people drowning."
Mrs Botherway also reminded skippers that alcohol and the water don't mix. "If you're skippering a vessel, you're responsible for everyone on board. Alcohol impairs sound judgment and, when combined with guns and the water, it also endangers lives."
Meanwhile, rules also require that if boats are on the water between sunset and sunrise they must show a light. Navigation lights should also be switched on when visibility is low due to fog.
Visit <a href="http://www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/Navigation">www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/navigation</a> for more information on the boating rules, as well as safety advice.
Meanwhile, the regional council and the Ministry for Primary Industries are reminding hunters of the importance of cleaning their equipment in between waterways to avoid the spread of unwanted freshwater pests, including didymo.
"Unwanted freshwater pests such as didymo, hornwort, and salvinia pose a serious threat to our rivers, streams and lakes. Once in a waterway they can disperse rapidly and destroy the environmental, recreational and aesthetic values of our waterways," says biosecurity operations manager Peter Russell.
"The North Island is currently free of didymo and we want to keep it that way. Anyone bringing a boat from the South Island to the North island must be especially careful.
"We are asking hunters generally moving between waterways to 'Check, Clean, Dry' any equipment that has come into contact with river or lake water - particularly boots. They should also look out for the likes of alligator weed on decoys or punts. Some freshwater pests, like didymo, are microscopic and can be spread by a single drop of water. Even if you can't see the danger you could be spreading it."
Mr Russell also said that before leaving a waterway, people should check items and leave any debris they find at the waterway. "All items should then be cleaned for at least one minute with a five percent solution of biodegradable dishwashing solution. That's about one tablespoon of detergent per 250ml. Water absorbent materials such as boots require longer soaking times to allow thorough saturation.
"Drying will kill didymo but even slightly moist items can harbour didymo and other microscopic pests for months. To ensure didymo cells are dead by drying, the item must be completely dry to the touch, inside and out, then left dry for at least another 48 hours before use," said Mr Russell.
"Following these simple procedures will help slow freshwater pests like didymo from spreading throughout New Zealand waterways. It's everyone's responsibility to try to preserve the environmental integrity of our waterways for future generations."
For more information about didymo and freshwater pests go to www.waikatoregion.govt.nz or visit <a href="http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz">www.biosecurity.govt.nz</a>.
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