Tauranga and Katikati homeowners have been helping to stop the spread of aquatic pests by assisting Bay of Regional Council contractors in their checks of ornamental ponds and water features.
“So far this year we’ve been able to check a total of 1365 properties in the Katikati, Oropi, Ohauiti and Welcome Bay areas for aquatic pests. 283 of the properties we’ve visited had ponds or water features on them and we found at least one pest species in 26 of them,” said Regional Council Senior Biosecurity Officer Shane Grayling.
“Pest plants like water hyacinth and pest fish such as koi carp, are a threat to water quality, access and native wildlife in the region’s streams, lakes and wetlands. Pests that seem safely contained in a pond can be easily spread elsewhere by birds, pond overflows, earthworks machinery or if they’re shared with neighbours and friends,” said Mr Grayling.
“Most people we visited didn’t know what kind of plants or fish lived in their water features but were really interested to find out. All the pests we’ve found will be removed or put under a control programme, and we now have at least 300 more locals that know what pests to watch out for. We’re really grateful for the co-operation and assistance we’ve received from homeowners,” Mr Grayling said.
No pest fish were found during the pond checks but pest plants including oxygen weed (Lagarosiphon major), hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum), Egeria densa, Canadian pondweed (Elodea canadensis) and parrot’s feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum) were found in Tauranga ponds. Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) and purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) were found in ponds in the Katikati area.
Mr Grayling said that native plants like water milfoil or red pond weed can be used as safe alternatives to pest species.
Under the Biosecurity Act 1993 and Bay of Plenty Regional Pest Management Plan it is illegal to knowingly spread, propagate, release to a waterway or sell any listed aquatic pest.
Mr Grayling said that more pond pest checks are planned for this spring and summer, targeting other parts of Tauranga and Ōmokoroa.
“In the meantime anyone with questions about how to identify, control and safely dispose of pest fish or pond weeds, can call us on 0800 STOP PESTS (0800 786 773) or email STOP.PESTS@boprc.govt.nz” he said.