Provisions for creating a controlled boundary around a high value area already exist in the Bio Security Act, in the form of what is termed a “controlled area”
However, the legislation currently enables such designation only after Didymo, or a like pest, has been found in the area.
We propose that this provision be amended, to enable “controlled area” status to be accorded before Didymo reaches a high value area. This would mean that appropriate prevention measures, such as those contained in BNZ provision for inmplementation after incursion, can be put into effect as stinngent protection. There seems little sense in waiting until the damage is done. It is essential the TCF be given “controlled area” designation before a Didymo incursion.
A “controlled area” provides two way protection
Making the TCF a “controlled area, will give the befefits of a two-way filter. This means that on the one hand, if the first North Island Didymo incursion is in the TCF area, ring-fence protection strategies inplace in this area will dramatically increase the odds in favour of containing Didymo and preventing it s spread to other North Island rivers. On the other hand, the controlled area provisions will also act as a filtering out mechanism when anglers are coming into the TCF.
incentives for prevention
Didymo is different from other incursions dealt with by BNZ and therefore, BNZ needs different mechanisims to deal with it. For example, BNZ normally deals with invasive pests (e.g. varroa bee mite) which affect one industry (honey factories). The operators there can recognise the full weight of the implications of a pest gaining a foothold and so hardly need public awareness campaigns and incentives for implementing controls. In such cases the impact is felt in raw economic terms by those directly involved, putting livelihoods at stake. With regard to Didymo there is not the same industry based incentives nor is there direct impact on the angling public, who does not fully appreciate the implications of casual indifference.
The idea of ring-fencing high value areas is not new.
We have in NZ several examples of high value areas that have been “ring fenced”. For example, various islands and parts of the mainland have been declared free from pests, e.g. Maungatautari in the Waikato, Tiritirimatanga in the Hauraki Gulf; Kapati Island off Waikanae.
Cost associated with “controlled area” status
To assertain a realistic cost assessment of implementing ring-fencing measures in the TCF, careful cost/benefit and risk/value analysis will be necessary. And to give a true picture the analysis must take into account the values inherent in the fishery, the high levels of exposure to the risk of incursion, and the long term flow on costs if the TCF is left unprotected.
Making the TCF a “controlled area, in summary
Implementing this policy proposal needs serious consideration right now. We cannot afford the consequences of delay.
3. A Clean Gear Licence
The second of the initiatives we propose goes hand-in-hand with the domestic border control or ring fencing measure proposed above. For instance, when travellers have had their gear checked at an airport or ferry terminal, they will be issued with a Clean Gear Licence (CGL) A Clean Gear Licence would also be issued in tandem with the issuing of a fishing licence in any part of New Zealand, or must be shown in order to be able to purchase a fishing licence.
Safeguard our rivers by looking after your gear
As Didymo is often invisible to the naked eye, it can be spread unknowingly. When this fact is put alongside the characteristic, “she’ll be right “attitude, the common response is not to bother. The intention of this CGL proposal is to establish as a widely accepted norm among users of freshwater, the practice of “safeguarding our rivers by looking after your gear”. It is worth noting that Australia puts NZ to shame in the approach it takes to Didymo. For instance, Australian anglers who regularly fish in New Zealand are increasingly asking the motels and fishing gear retailers in NZ to look after their gear between trips rather than have it subjected to the stringent deconination procedures at borders in Australia.
What is a Clean Gear Licence?
A Clean gear Licence would be in effect a decontamination certificate and a statement of intent to use decontamination procedures as required.
Getting a Clean Gear Licence
 getting a clean gear licence would mean:
having gear cleaned when purchasing a fishing licence, or on check-in to travel to a North Island destination;
agreeing to use the recommended cleaning methods after/between fishing different rivers;
receiving an pack of pertinent well presented information;
there would have to be
- approved fishing licence providers;
- a credit card sized card (CGL);
- a plastic pouch for the CGL, with BNZ’s required
decontamination procedures printed on it
The declaration on the licence card would read something like this:
“Clean Gear Licence: (Insert name……..) My fishing gear has been cleaned and I will take the action specified on the CGL pouch to avoid spreading Didymo and other unwanted freshwater organisims”. This would be signed and dated by the angler and the approved fishing licence provider.
Amending the Fishing Licence regulations
Changes will be required to the fishing licence regulations to make the CGL a prerequisite to obtaining a licence to fish, and to impose fines if fishing without a CGL. While we recognise that politicians may be, loathe to stepping in and regulating what is seen as a bastion of freedom, the impact of not doing so will be detrimental and far-reaching.
Costs of implementing a CGL
Obtaining a CGL as outlined would be quick and simple thus minimising compliance costs for both the licence providers and anglers. Other costs such as provision of the licence cards and information packs would be minimal. Costs associated with regulation change will be absorbed as part of public service business.
Increased surveillance necessary
DoC and Fish and Game field staff need to interact with anglers and other users much more frequently than at present – perhaps so often that on any one day an angler has a high (100%) chance of being approached by a DoC or Fish and game field official.
The Clean Gear Licence, in summary
“Safeguarding our waters by taking care of your gear” has to become the accepted mantra, and a Clean Gear Licence a preqequisite to obtaining a fishing licence.
4. Keep Felt Soles out of New Zealand Waters
Banning felt soles from use in NZ Freshwater would be a small but significant measure in helping to future-proof our waters against a host of undesirable and damaging pests and weed.
The ideal host for aquatic hitchhikers
Taking felt soles out of New Zealand waters altogether would significantly reduce the risk of spreading unwanted fresh water organisims
. The thick layer of felt provides an ideal condition for moving unwanted aquatic life around the world. Didymo cells for example, which are absorbed into the felt, can survive in those damp conditions for long periods; can adapt to new environments as they have in NZ, and will continue to contaminate. It appears that, increasingly scientists are tending to find correlations between arrival of unwanted organisms in various parts of the world, and an increase in the use of felt soles.
Managing the safety factors
Felt has been considered to provide more sure footing when wading especially in rocky rivers. However, manufacturers, aware of the need to take felt out of the equation are now producing rubber-soled boots with good non-slip properties. Discussions between NZ retailers and overseas manufacturers on the need for alternative materials are well advanced. Safety is therefore unlikely to be compromised by a ban on felt soles.
Cost associated with banning felt soles is minimal when compared with the potential of felt, as a carrier, to cause long-term harm. We recommend that anglers who currently have felt soled boots would have the soles replaced at no cost to them.
Felt soles in summary
Allowing felt soles to be used in NZ’s fresh water is bad practice in terms of bio security risks, and needs to be stopped. NZ can take a lead role in having felt soles banned internationally, an initiative, which would be
in everyone’s best interests.
5. A New Awareness Campaign
The Marine Safety Authority has successfully shifted the norm regarding the wearing of lifejackets by NZ boat users. They did this through a television and poster campaign featuring a well known and widely respected New Zealander. Using Colin Meads to get recreational boaties to put on life jackets has been a very successful means of penetrating attitudes relating to that particular safety issue. There was approximately a 75% increase in the wearing of lifejackets over the time of the campaign. The same approach would succeed in getting anglers and others to make the changes necessary to protect our waters against Didymo and like fresh water pests.
Have a well known, respected Kiwi give the message
A significant number of anglers and other fresh water still have their heads in the sand and have yet to be persuaded that the “she’ll be right” approach is no longer good enough.
Unlike boat users, the impact of irresponsible behaviour in relation to a freshwater epidemic such as Didymo goes well beyond themselves and those with them at the time.
A new awareness campaign in summary
We strongly recommend advancing from the “Check Clean Dry” to a NZ wide high profile “Celebrity Campaign,” featuring someone like Anton Oliver and/or Sir Edmund Hillary, as soon as possible.
6. Research into the Ecology of Didymosphenia geminata (Didymo) Little is known
A commitment to ongoing research is the final of the measures we consider essential. There are many as yet unanswered questions about Didymo and its impact. We propose that a well funded research approach aimed at fully understanding the ecology of Didymo be undertaken at the highest level of scientific capability. We appreciate the research work done to date by NIWA and other agencies but it is not sufficient nor is the funding adequate.
Proposed approach and benefits and costs
By taking an ecological approach, much could be learned about the range of Didymo, especially its likely reaction to different habitats and environments. Therein may lie a way of (i) keeping the pest out of the North Island, and, (ii) controlling the impact and spread in the South Island. The use of the copper citrate complex is unlikely to be effective. The immediate and long term benefits of high quality research will far outweigh cost, particularly given the high level of international interest in NZ as a leader in this research field.
There is much to gain from making research as proposed in this paper, a priority.
Didymo is a serious threat to NZ;’s fresh water environment and the economic social and ecological values integral to it. With the trout fishing season in most of New Zealand rivers are now open for another year, there is a flow of anglers and wet gear and boats (and the probability of live Didymo cells), moving unchecked, between South and North Island rivers and lakes. It is nonsense to let this continue. Serious threats need rigorous responses. The BNZ campaign has to be much more strident than at present and there needs to be opportunities to introduce even stronger measures in areas of particular value or significance.
The Advocates for the Tongariro River, (Inc) and the New Zealand Federation of freshwater Anglers, recommend:
Ring Fencing the North Island by extending the amendment to the Import Health Standards announced by Biosecurity NZ on 17 September 2007 to all South Island departure pointsarture points;
Ring-fencing the Taupo catchment Fishery;
Introducing a Clean Gear Licence;
Imposing a ban on felt soled boots
Launching a NZ wide high profile awareness campaign featuring a NZ Celebrity;
Commissioning well funded research aimed at an ecological understanding of Didymo and its impact; and
taking action on 1 to 6 with urgency.
15 October 2007
Advocates for the
PO box 335
See paper 2 – “Broader Freshwater Recreational Issues for Discussion”, below
 The following extract from BNZ’s press release (25th September 07) acknowledges the failure of its “Check Clean Dry” awareness policy: “We have beenfrustrated in the past with the number of anglers who know about Didymo but still do not clean their equipment. I would ask every angler this season to think how he or she could ensure that they do not put our fisheries at risk. It is not a big effort to clean your equipment, but it is very necessary, not just for Didymo but other aquatic pests as well.”
BNZ Press release of 25th
 Iceland has a policy of not allowing any used fishing gear into the country unless the traveller presents a Decontamination Certificate to biosecurity staff upon arrival. The certificate confirms that all freshwater gear has been cleaned using a procedure specified by Iceland, by an approved person, (a vet) in the country the traveller has come from. Iceland has no freshwater pests and is ensuring that the status quo continues.
 BNZ recently announced that “From mid October 2007 MAFBNZ’s Import health standards associated with animals or water will be updated to require MAFBNZ staff to treat all used freshwater fishing equipment they determine or suspect is NOT COMPLETELY DRY (inside and out), regardless of whether it has been cleaned before coming to New Zealand.” BNZ 17 September 2007 This regulation needs to be made applicable to domestic ports and airports.
 Revenue generated per annum by theTaupo Fishery and associated activities should be available through Biosecurity NZ‘s updated assessment of costs relating to Didymo. Figures held by DoC Turangi are 1990’s estimates
 “High value” is the term used by BNZ as part of the provisions enabling controls to be implemented in an area once a pest such as Didymo has been confirmed in those waters. The status of “high value” can be contingent upon one or more of a range of values being deemed intrinsic to a particular waterway.
 Other freshwater recreational sporting groups would be encouraged to implement a “Clean Gear Licence”
 Results of tests done for BNZ by NIWA Scientist Barry Biggs in 2006 showed felt soles on fishing boots to hold live Didymo cells for significantly longer period of time than soles made of leather or rubber.
 Replacement cost, which would be minimal, would come from the BNZ Contingency Fund
 Ref SIMMS advert in Fish and Game Magazine of August 2007
 Ref footnote 1, page 1 (as recently passed in the House?) It being noted that ‘NZ Federated Farmers’ have supported this.
Discussion paper 2:
Broader freshwater recreational issues for discussion
Access – what is the National Party’s stand on ‘Public Access’
register of unformed official roads must be established. What is the Parties stand here?
Recognition that Didymo impacts on industry as well as recreation – agree.
Preservation of recreational aspects of rural lifestyles, especially fresh water based ones – where does the party stand here.
NZ’s abundance of freshwater. Where does the party stand with ‘privatisation of water’ via ‘tradeable or transferable water rights? Managing this very valuable resource to everyone’s advantage, we consider this very important
Alternative methods of power generation (to hydro?)
These are other matters we would like Shane Ardern to comment on: