Date: 11 May 2012
Fish & Game and the Department of Conservation (DOC) are delighted that the testing of 22 rivers in Fiordland National Park showed no signs of the invasive freshwater pest didymo.
“This is our third year in a row with no new records of Didymo,” said DOC freshwater ranger Lyndsay Murray. “It’s a fantastic result and shows that people’s willingness to 'Clean, Check and Dry' all their gear continues to help prevent didymo spreading further into the pristine waters of Fiordland”.
Ms Murray said there is no known way to reverse the spread of didymo once it has established itself in a waterway so preventing it spreading was critical.
Didymo was first found in New Zealand in 2004 in the lower Waiau River. Unfortunately many rivers and waterways in the Southland Plains and along the eastern boundary of Fiordland National Park (including Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri and the Eglinton River) quickly succumbed to the invasive pest. Quick reaction by lead organisations (headed by Biosecurity New Zealand - MAFBNZ) and an engaging 'Clean, Check, Dry' campaign has meant many Fiordland rivers have been kept didymo free.
Each year Fish & Game and DOC collect water samples from selected sites and send them to NIWA for analysis. This monitoring work enables DOC and Fish & Game to assess the effectiveness of existing approaches for controlling the spread of didymo and to make changes, such as installing additional cleaning stations, as required.
These results confirm that preventing the spread of didymo in Fiordland is achievable, and as long as anglers, trampers, hunters and other users continue to check, clean and dry their gear, Fiordland’s waterways should remain pristine for many years to come.
Most of the rivers selected for monitoring are either popular with anglers or associated with tramping tracks, such as the Clinton and Arthur Rivers along the Milford Track. These rivers receive large numbers of recreational users over the summer season. Businesses operating in the park, such as Real Journey’s and Ultimate Hikes, are also highly influential in stopping the spread of didymo by helping ensure all their clients clean their boots before starting the walk.
The success of the 'Check, Clean, Dry' campaign hinges on the continued assistance from all recreational users; as long as people continue to take a minute to decontaminate their gear, we should all be able to continue to enjoy beautiful clear rivers.
More information about didymo is available at the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre. Simple, lightweight didymo cleaning kits are available, as is a cleaning station for public use free of charge upon request.