Temporary biosecurity measures are in place for popular Rotorua trout fishing lake from Sunday the 1st of October
From 1 to 31 October, Lake Ōkataina will be off-limits for boating and fishing due to the introduction risk of invasive gold clams, through a mechanism called a Controlled Area Notice (CAN) under the Biosecurity Act.
While the clam's presence is currently limited to the Waikato River, this move is "a precautionary and balanced approach", says Biosecurity New Zealand.
Why Lake Ōkataina?
Lake Ōkataina holds immense cultural significance to Ngāti Tarāwhai, housing submerged Māori archaeological features. The lake's popularity, especially hotspot for trout fishers from Waikato, makes it susceptible to potential biosecurity threats.
Cleaning Stations on the Horizon:
During the closure, boat cleaning facilities will be set up to ensure that boats entering Lake Ōkataina are free from the freshwater gold clam. Additionally, cleaning stations will be established in the Waikato region, with the first one expected at Lake Karāpiro in about three weeks. The goal is to have cleaning stations at all major boat ramps.
Lake Activities:While boating and fishing are restricted, you can still enjoy other activities at Lake Ōkataina, such as shore walks, picnics, and swimming. If you have a pressing need to use boats during the closure, special permits are available upon request.
Biosecurity New Zealand, in collaboration with regional councils, is ramping up surveillance efforts. So far, no evidence of the clam has been found in multiple waterways around Rotorua. Trials are also in the pipeline to explore ways to suppress the clam population in the Waikato River, expected to commence by November.
"We appreciate people want to get on Lake Ōkataina at the start of the trout fishing season, but a small sacrifice this month goes a long way towards preserving it for generations to come," says Biosecurity New Zealand's Deputy Director-General, Stuart Anderson.
"Once we have the facilities to ensure all boats coming into the lake are clam-free, the lake will be open to enjoy for the remainder of the season."