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Rotorua community supports weed control

Friday, 9 December 2011 9:00 a.m.

Rotorua businesses, iwi, lakeside communities and recreational bodies have strongly supported Bay of Plenty Regional Council's weed control operations on Rotorua lakes.

The Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Strategy Group meeting last week heard that research had shown 83 percent of key stakeholders supported weed control in key areas such as Hannah's Bay, the Rotorua lakefront and Boyes Beach at Lake Ōkāreka.

Strategy Group Chairman and Rotorua Mayor Kevin Winters said aquatic weed infestation over the past 50 years had resulted in major impacts on lake ecology, biodiversity, water quality and recreational use.

The Regional Council had responsibilities under both the Ten Year Plan and Regional Pest Management Plan 2011-2016 to address biosecurity issues. The Council dealt with four major weed species which were in some but not in all lakes, so the biosecurity programme looked at the use of weed cordons and extensive monitoring to prevent incursions into unaffected lakes.

The programme also involved targeted control of lake weed around boat ramps, currently funded at $112,000 a year by Land Information NZ. There was minimal direct targeting of aquatic pest plant control for amenity purposes, although some areas such as Kawaha Point weed bed were treated, as strandings from the weed bed could have a major effect on Rotorua's lakefront, he said.

Over the past two years the Regional Council had received an increasing number of requests for aquatic weed control for safety and recreational use.

"The impacts of aquatic pest plants on recreational and amenity values are currently not well addressed. Both the Regional Council and Rotorua District Council have a mandate under the Local Government Act to take action where they consider this is of benefit to the region and district," he said.

A report had been commissioned to investigate the scale and nature of the issue, and determine the level of intervention required from the Regional Council. The consultants collected feedback from a range of recreational bodies, commercial operators and businesses, hapū, iwi and lakeside communities.

The rationale for controlling lake weeds was that they impeded swimming, boating and fishing, diminished water quality and compromised aesthetic values. Pest plants rotting ashore in substantial quantities created a strong stench. There was strong stakeholder support for Council involvement in controlling aquatic weeds, he said.

Recommendations from the report included creating a mechanism for public/private control on areas of low biosecurity but high private amenity value. Public/private partnerships were supported by nearly 60 percent of stakeholders. $50,000 in funding has provisionally been included in The Regional Council's Ten Year Plan for aquatic weed control.

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For further media information please contactWarwick Murray, Group Manager Land Management on 0800 884 880 or Linda Thompson, Senior Communications Advisor, on (021) 923 339.

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