Aquatic Biosecurity – a year in review

There are a wide range of freshwater pests, existing and potential, that pose a significant threat to New Zealand's environment and economy. These are of concern to both the public and those responsible for their management.

The goals of the aquatic biosecurity programme are to:

  1. reduce the risk of new freshwater invasive species entering and establishing in New Zealand and
  2. prevent or minimise the impacts of resident alien invasive species on freshwater.

To reduce the risk of new freshwater invasive species entering and establishing we need to be able to identify species, understand which species may pose a threat and how and where to look for them.

To prevent or minimise impacts of freshwater systems we require the right tools and the knowledge of how to best use these.

A number of web accessible tools and publications have been produced in the last year to help achieve these goals: 

Problematic species are described in the Freshwater Pests of NZ booklet. This is an e-book with new information on additional species to that in the previous publication, which will be a significant resource for expanding the awareness of management agencies, field staff, researchers and the public with an interest in freshwater pest species.

NIWA has contributed to the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network and the Federation of NZ Aquatic Societies websites with co-funding from TFBIS (the terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity information system funding administered by DOC).

  • Risk Assessment models for plants and fish are available. 
  • Surveillance. A research project on freshwater surveillance Staying ahead of water weed invasions shows how modelling work has provided new information on which water bodies may be at greatest risk. 
  • Monitoring with plant indicators enable us to Keep tabs on lake health. More information is available on the LakeSPI website

Also see our list of recent publications

Contact: Programme Leader Dr John Clayton

Native underwater garden of submerged plants in Te Paki Dune Lake, Northland, including the critically endangered bladderwort (Utricularia australis) scrambling over charophytes (Chara australis), with tall pondweeds (Potamogeton cheesemanii) in the background. [Rohan Wells]
Freshwater Pests of New Zealand.
Left: Surveillance for weeds should be targeted at lakes with high invasion risk. Credit: John Clayton. Right: Management response to a high weed invasion threat may be public education and information. Credit: Rohan Wells