“It’s the responsibility of every lake user to follow the rules to prevent gold clam or any other freshwater pest from spreading to the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes this summer. Based on current self-certification compliance statistics, people need to do better.”
That’s the comment by Te Wakaunua Te Kurapa, Bay of Plenty Regional Council Biosecurity Officer, reflecting on the low levels of adherence to Rule 7 of the Bay of Plenty Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) 2020 – 2030: All boat ramp users are required to self-certify that their craft and trailer are free of freshwater pests.
“While there has been an improvement in people doing the right thing, only 40 percent of the 960 boats checked at public boat ramps over the last few months have undertaken the self-certification requirements.”
With the discovery of the new-to-New Zealand Freshwater gold clam in the Waikato River in May, the current focus locally is on preventing the spread of this highly invasive freshwater pest to the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes. Local hapū, lakeside communities, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Te Arawa Lakes Trust, and Rotorua Lakes Council are all working collectively with Biosecurity New Zealand to ensure locals and visitors alike are aware of what they need to do to protect the lakes.
Te Kurupa says that the new actions resulting from Biosecurity New Zealand creating two national Controlled Area Notices (CAN), in addition to Regional Council’s existing Bay of Plenty RPMP self-certification requirements, are necessary.
“It’s crucial for all lake users to comply with all the rules in place to prevent the inadvertent introduction of any freshwater pests,” says Te Kurapa.
“While it may take longer and require some pre-planning, particularly for those coming from the Waikato, there is plenty of information available. This includes leaflets to lakeside residents, signs on roads coming into town, local advertising and details on the Biosecurity New Zealand, regional and local council websites.
“To support this effort, lakeside self-certification at public boat ramps has been streamlined with the inclusion of QR codes on signage to enable digital self-certification, making it easier for lake users to comply with the rules. Biosecurity Officers from Te Arawa Lakes Trust will also be present daily throughout the peak summer period and every weekend until April, to continue to ensure compliance and education.
“Preserving the beauty and health of Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes is a collective responsibility. We must work together to ensure that clean boats, not gold clams, are coming to the lakes this summer.”
Full details of the CANs currently in place can be found on the Biosecurity New Zealand website.