A new biosecurity rule for wake boats used on a stretch of the Waikato River comes into effect tomorrow in a bid to prevent the spread of the freshwater gold clam pest into other areas.
“The new rule, introduced through a mechanism under the Biosecurity Act called a Controlled Area Notice (CAN), affects all wake boats using the stretch of the Waikato River from the Whakamaru Dam down to the river mouth at Port Waikato,” says Biosecurity New Zealand director of readiness and response, John Walsh.
“Wake boats that have been on this controlled stretch must not be used in any other waterways including other parts of the Waikato River outside the controlled area. The CAN comes into effect at 11.59pm on Friday 24 November 2023.”
Wake boats are any craft with an internal tank or bladder that cannot be completely drained.
“Wake boats present a higher risk of transmitting the freshwater gold clam as there is currently no known reliable method of cleaning the internal tanks and bladders,” says Mr Walsh.
“Biosecurity New Zealand is investigating whether a reliable cleaning method can be developed. If so, the special requirements for wake boats will be reviewed.”
The CAN also means all recreational river users that have been in the controlled stretch of the river must continue to follow existing clam-specific Check, Clean, Dry requirements for any craft, gear (such as fishing and other equipment used to gather kai) and equipment (including water skis, wakeboards, and inflatable pool toys).
“Extensive surveillance shows that we are successfully stopping the spread of the clam. CANs are a critical tool in our ongoing efforts to protect our waterways. This new CAN replaces and strengthens the existing measures that are in place for the Waikato River and adds to the biosecurity rules we’ve put in place for Te Arawa lakes in the Bay of Plenty recently,” says Mr Walsh.
To support the clam-specific Check, Clean, Dry requirements of the CAN, Biosecurity New Zealand has established a permanent wash station at Mighty River Domain, Lake Karāpiro. A mobile wash station is also being funded, which can be moved as needed to events and busy locations along the Waikato River.
Signs outlining the new CAN requirements are being installed along the river at about 70 different locations. These should all be in place by Sunday.