Biosecurity budget increase to fight invasive lake weeds

8 July 2019

More than $7.5 million over four years has been set aside as part of Budget 2019 in support of biosecurity work to protect lakes, rivers and lands from invasive weeds and pests.

Biosecurity project manager Marcus Girvan was present when Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage announced the funding in a new conference at Lake Wanaka.

Boffa Miskell works together with Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), and the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) in protecting New Zealand’s lakes and rivers from invasive water weeds.

A significant amount of this funding will be directed to improving surveillance, monitoring and control efforts of lake weed at several of our iconic lakes including Lakes Wakatipu, Dunstan, Wanaka, Benmore and Aviemore in the South Island, and several Te Arawa Rotorua lakes and Lake Karapiro in the North Island.

"It is fitting that this announcement is made here at Lake Wanaka, where Land Information NZ committed to a long-term programme to contain lagarosiphon in 2004 as the lead agency in the Lake Wanaka Lagarosiphon Committee, committing significant annual funding over the past 15 years," said Marcus.

"Lake Wanaka has been the home of innovation in aquatic weed management. One such innovation, thanks to some research undertaken by NIWA, has been the use of biodegradable hessian matting, which is now used widely in the lake and in other waterways such as Lakes Wakatipu, Benmore, Aviemore and the Kawarau River."

“This is really good news for these major lakes,” said LINZ Biosecurity and Biodiversity Director Dave Mole.

The money will allow LINZ, working with Boffa Miskell and NIWA, to increase surveillance of lake weed, as well as improve the monitoring and evaluation of control activities such as hessian matting and herbicide spraying.

The biosecurity team will also look at what additional control methods could be used to meet community expectations.

"The threat aquatic weeds present to our biological heritage is significant, so we're very grateful for this new funding, which we plan to put to very good use," said Marcus.

"One of the first uses of this new funding will be to survey the foreshore of Lake Wakatipu, which is approximately 240km in length; that’s the distance from Wanaka to Invercargill. Our divers will visually inspect the entire lake’s shoreline by being towed behind a boat. The lakes' temperature rarely exceeds 10 degrees Celsius, so it’s not a job for the faint-hearted!"