GDC’s biosecurity advocate spreads didymo-free message

READ IT, HEED IT: Gisborne Disctrict Council’s new microsecurity department employee Holly McIldowie with the Check Clean Dry sign. The message is designed to help keep our waterways free of the parastic microscopic algae didymo and other aquatic weeds. Picture by Paul Rickard

“CHECK, Clean and Dry” is the message from Gisborne District Council’s new biosecurity department didymo advocate Holly McIldowie.

The parasitic, microscopic algae didymo uses up all available nutrients, which kills native plant and fish life.

“It can exist in a single drop of water, making it very easy to be transferred between waterways,” Ms McIldowie said.

The GDC biosecurity department is working with the Ministry of Primary Industries, Department of Conservation and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to promote awareness of freshwater pests and weeds.

Didymo, or “rock snot”, has a fibrous texture, which means it does not break apart easily. When it attaches itself to rocks a lot of other material can get caught in it.

“This blocks up the waterways and can stop the flow of shallow rivers completely,” Ms McIldowie said.

“It has not spread to the North Island, which is mainly due to everyone working together to spread the ‘Check, Clean and Dry’ message to make sure no one spreads it.

“Although we do not have didymo, we do have other invasive aquatic weeds such as lagarosiphon (oxygen weed), which is found in Lake Waikaremoana."

Lagarosiphon is a bottom-rooted perennial that can grow up to five metres long.

“It only needs a piece of plant material 2-3cm long to be transferred to another waterway for it to grow and spread.”

Other invasive weeds include hydrilla, hornwort, parrots feather and salvinia.

Not only does it cost the ratepayer a lot of money to clean up the waterways, but it means people no longer have beautiful fresh waterways to enjoy, Ms McIldowie said.

“A highlight of my job so far is being able to travel to popular waterways and spread the message of ‘Check, Clean and Dry’.”

It is also satisfying to see people adopting the message when they use the waterways.

“It is really awesome to be able to work in a job where you are making a difference to the environment, and being able to help protect it for generations to come.”

“CHECK, Clean and Dry” is the message from Gisborne District Council’s new biosecurity department didymo advocate Holly McIldowie.

The parasitic, microscopic algae didymo uses up all available nutrients, which kills native plant and fish life.

“It can exist in a single drop of water, making it very easy to be transferred between waterways,” Ms McIldowie said.

The GDC biosecurity department is working with the Ministry of Primary Industries, Department of Conservation and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to promote awareness of freshwater pests and weeds.

Didymo, or “rock snot”, has a fibrous texture, which means it does not break apart easily. When it attaches itself to rocks a lot of other material can get caught in it.

“This blocks up the waterways and can stop the flow of shallow rivers completely,” Ms McIldowie said.

“It has not spread to the North Island, which is mainly due to everyone working together to spread the ‘Check, Clean and Dry’ message to make sure no one spreads it.

“Although we do not have didymo, we do have other invasive aquatic weeds such as lagarosiphon (oxygen weed), which is found in Lake Waikaremoana."

Lagarosiphon is a bottom-rooted perennial that can grow up to five metres long.

“It only needs a piece of plant material 2-3cm long to be transferred to another waterway for it to grow and spread.”

Other invasive weeds include hydrilla, hornwort, parrots feather and salvinia.

Not only does it cost the ratepayer a lot of money to clean up the waterways, but it means people no longer have beautiful fresh waterways to enjoy, Ms McIldowie said.

“A highlight of my job so far is being able to travel to popular waterways and spread the message of ‘Check, Clean and Dry’.”

It is also satisfying to see people adopting the message when they use the waterways.

“It is really awesome to be able to work in a job where you are making a difference to the environment, and being able to help protect it for generations to come.”

By following the GDC’s simple instructions, Gisborne and Wairoa waterways will remain free of the noxious weed didymo.

  • CHECK all equipment that has come into contact with the water for any plant material, and remove.
  • CLEAN all equipment with a 5 percent detergent or 2 percent bleach solution.
  • Let all equipment DRY to the touch and then leave for a further 48 hours before moving between waterways.
  • If you cannot CHECK, CLEAN and DRY between waterways, then ensure you use different equipment when travelling to another fresh waterway.
  • If there are any suspected sightings of didymo or other pest weeds or fish, please report them immediately to the MPI Pest and Disease Hotline 0800-809-966.

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