New recreational activities bring increased risk of didymo spread

The Southland Conservation board says didymo has spread to Junction Burn, Freeman Burn and the Pamela Burn at the head ...
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The Southland Conservation board says didymo has spread to Junction Burn, Freeman Burn and the Pamela Burn at the head of Lake Monowai.

New recreational activities, like pack rafting, have increased the risks of didymo spreading to Southland waterways, a Department of Conservation report has said.

A Fiordland National Park implementations issues report given to the Southland Conservation board says didymo has spread to Junction Burn, Freeman Burn and the Pamela Burn at the head of Lake Monowai.

"The Department has maintained a strong role in prevention and action but the advent of new recreational activities such as pack rafting have increased the risks of spreading the infestation into new catchments," the report said.

Pack rafts are small, portable inflatable boats and are light enough to be carried over long distances.

Packrafting New Zealand owner Arno Marten said his business, based in Queenstown, worked with DOC and had procedures in place to ensure they did their best to prevent the spread of didymo.

They thoroughly cleaned all their equipment between days and water sheds and ensured their customers cleaned their shoes as well, Marten said.

"Literally everything we wear every day gets cleaned."

It was not only pack rafters who could spread didymo - hunters, fishermen and trampers were all likely to spread the invasive algae, Marten said.

It was hard to ensure equipment was completely clean while in the backcountry, he said.

The microscopic pest can be spread by a single drop of water so anyone who was not aware of didymo had a huge chance of spreading it, he said.

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"We try and educate the people as much as we can."

As more pack rafters come into New Zealand, they needed to know what they were doing, Marten said.

 - Stuff

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