New Zealand Fish & Game communications update for fresh water anglers and licence holders on the potential closure of a Rotorua district lake due to invasive gold clams.
Anglers may have seen reports about steps to restrict access to Lake Okataina near Rotorua amid iwi concerns about the spread of the invasive species gold clam.
Many anglers are understandably worried about the situation, especially on the eve of the new fishing season.
Fish & Game New Zealand is closely monitoring the situation and is working with mana whenua, Te Arawa Lakes Trust, and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to understand the risks of gold clams spreading from the Waikato River to the Rotorua lakes.
They are also delving into the science to better understand what this means for the health of freshwater and both native and valued introduced species.
Gold clams have been confirmed in the Waikato River since May 2023 and, fortunately, have not been discovered elsewhere. This invasive species is mainly spread by boats with a ballast system, such as wake boats for water skiing and wakeboarding. MPI has assessed there is little risk of freshwater clams being spread by anglers, and boats used for trout fishing have no need for ballast systems.
Fish & Game's Concerns
Fish & Game is deeply concerned about discussions to close Lake Okataina, especially considering the Waikato River system and Lake Karapiro are under minimal restrictions by MPI.
They believe MPI and Waikato Regional Council should be taking much stronger measures to prevent the spread of gold clams to other regions. This includes investing more resources into isolating the gold clam at its origin in the Waikato River.
Fish & Game also believes that other measures, such as installing wash stations at boat ramps, should have been implemented as soon as the gold clams were discovered.
Promoting Good Bio-security Practices
Fish & Game has been at the forefront of promoting good biosecurity practices at rivers and lakes nationwide. Their initiatives include banning felt-soled waders and leading the advocacy of the ‘check, clean, dry’ steps for angling gear, which is also recommended to prevent the spread of gold clams.
Fish & Game urges anglers to remain diligent in following these biosecurity practices, including checking, cleaning, and drying all gear, and to alert MPI if they come across the clams.
Anglers will be kept informed about any developments regarding this situation.
New Zealand Fish and Game Council