Boating and water activities

Protecting our seas, rivers and lakes from pests and diseases

We swim and surf in the moana (ocean). We paddle and fish on our awa (rivers). We sail and ski on our roto (lakes). As Kiwis, we're spoilt for choice when it comes to water activities. Biosecurity protects our favourite waters by defending them from pests and diseases.

Freshwater and marine pests can ruin our enjoyment of water activities. They can also impact the kai we eat, our drinking water, our drains and our native species.

We should look after our lakes, rivers and oceans and the native species that live there.  

Protect what you love. Protect our taonga. Protect our oceans and waterways.

How to play your part

Identify and report potential pests

Identify and report potential pests

Staying alert to prevent any biosecurity threats

Keeping our gear clean

Keeping our gear clean

Can help protect our precious coastlines, rivers and lakes from the spread of pests

Moving plants and animals can be dangerous

Moving plants and animals can be dangerous

Intentional or unintentional, it may spread pests and diseases

Cleaning your boat between waterways

Cleaning your boat between waterways

Protect our rivers and lakes from the spread of pests

Keeping a clean boat for marine biosecurity

Keeping a clean boat for marine biosecurity

Protecting our coastlines by keeping hitchhiking pests off our boats

Protect Fiordland's precious marine environment

Protect Fiordland's precious marine environment

Playing our part to keep this precious corner of New Zealand safe

Environment Canterbury (Chatham Islands) diver inspects boat -  Biosecurity Awards 2019 finalist
NZ Biosecurity Awards 2019 finalists - Environment Canterbury (Chatham Islands) diver inspects boat.

Marine Pests

With thousands of kilometres of coastline, we always have a stunning beach or bay not too far away.

Marine pests can impact our enjoyment of the coast. From walking on the tātahi (beach), swimming, surfing and diving, to boating into an untouched bay. Marine pests are non-native species that can change the spots we love.

They can set up ugly and smelly populations in our favourite spots.

They can harm our unique native species by crowding out. They can also damage our boats and affect our fishing.

We can help stop the spread of these established marine pests. We can also be aware of pests we are trying to keep out of New Zealand. We protect our oceans to keep our favourite spots the way we like them. 

Learn more about marine pests
Te Arawa Lakes Trust Biosecurity Award winners Young Volunteer with Catfish Te Weta Bay
NZ Biosecurity Awards Supreme winners 2019 - Young volunteer from Te Arawa Lake Trust holding a catfish.

Freshwater pests

Freshwater pests could squeeze the life out of our precious rivers and lakes. All it takes is a fragment of weed, a droplet of water, or a single fish egg.

Pests can affect our fishing and kōura catches, the kai we eat, the water we drink. These pests can ruin our enjoyment of activities around rivers and lakes. They could turn clear water murky and smelly, or get tangled in our gear. They may threaten our freshwater ecosystems by out-competing native species.

Unfortunately, some freshwater pests are already in some of New Zealand’s lakes, rivers and streams. Pests can hitch a ride on our boat, our gear and even our pets to spread to unaffected waterways. But we can help to stop them spreading.

We can help protect our favourite waterways by making sure we check, clean, and dry, especially when we move between waterways. 

Learn more about freshwater pests Learn how to Check, Clean, Dry

Getting to know biosecurity in your region

Every region in Aotearoa has its own unique and special environment. Wherever you call home, you can protect it by being aware of the biosecurity risks around you. We all have a part to play.

Find out more about biosecurity controls, programmes and local groups you can support in your area.

TMBC Taiao 540 x 360
Learning about marine biosecurity with Tauranga Moana Biosecurity Capital (TMBC) - NZ Biosecurity Awards 2019 finalists

Identify and report potential pests

If we all keep an eye and ear out for any unusual aquatic life, we can stop pests before they have a chance to spread.

If you think you've found something unusual:

Kiwis report about 10,000 suspected pests and diseases to the Ministry for Primary Industries every year.

Check out the resources to help identify and learn more about pests below.

NIWA logo

Resource

Freshwater pests - NIWA

Resources from NIWA on freshwater pest identification and management

Biosecurity NZ logo 720 x 400

Resource

Report a Pest or Disease - Biosecurity NZ

Biosecurity New Zealand Pest and Disease Hotline information

Adventure sport champions protect Aotearoas rivers video
Adventure sport champions, Richard and Elina Ussher, helping to protect Aotearoa's rivers.

Keeping equipment and clothing clean

Pests can spread into new rivers, lakes and coastal areas on water sport equipment and wet suits.

We prevent pests from spreading by cleaning our equipment and clothing – especially when we move between waters. We can Check, Clean, Dry our gear whenever we move between freshwater lakes and rivers. Freshwater pests could squeeze the life out of our rivers and lakes. Our favourite spots could could get ugly.

Check, clean, dry can be a breeze by having things like dishwashing liquid, a spray bottle and a large sturdy plastic bag or bucket handy.

If our equipment has been in sea water, we need to:

  • remove and dispose of any attached dead organisms
  • rinse or flush our equipment with fresh water
  • and dry our equipment if possible.

Check Clean Dry Pocket guide 720 x 400

Resource

Check, Clean, Dry pocket guide - Biosecurity NZ

Helpful freshwater biosecurity tips for outdoors adventurers

Fly fishers

Moving aquatic plants and animals can be a risk

Whether intentional or unintentional (such as on dirty equipment) moving plants or animals between different waters can spread pests and diseases. Moving aquatic plants and animals may need permits. Find out more about getting authorisation - DOC website.

If we're fishing, we don't take bait between different areas. We also dispose of any seafood waste, offal and bait in a land-based rubbish bin.

Some pests can survive a long time out of water, so we need to avoid dumping waste where it might end up back in the water.

Biosecurity with Big Angry Fish video
Biosecurity with Big Angry Fish

Cleaning our boats between waterways

Keeping our boats and trailers clean can help stop the spread of pests as we move from place to place.

Like the rest of our gear, we can use the check, clean, dry method to clean our boats whenever we move between freshwater lakes, rivers and streams.

Keeping our boats clean can also save us money and help our boats last longer.

We're unable to see all pests, so it's important that we check, clean, drain and dry our boats every time we move between waterways.

Learn more about the Check, Clean, Dry method

Check Clean Dry

Resource

The Check, Clean, Dry method - Biosecurity NZ

Detailed information to prevent the spread of freshwater pests and diseases

Resource

Cleaning boats: Removing pests and water plants

Detailed instructions on how to clean your boat

Stop the spread of freshwater pests DOC thumbnail 720 x 400

Resource

Stop the spread of freshwater pests - DOC

Information from the Department of Conservation on freshwater pests and diseases

How to clean your boat video
Find out how to clean your boat out of water and reapply antifouling paint

Keeping a clean boat for marine biosecurity

We can help protect the coastlines we love from pests by making sure that the submerged surfaces of our boats remain clean.

Marine pests spread easily by hitching a ride on the bottom of our vessels and dropping off at a new spot.

We are all responsible for making sure that we're not spreading marine pests. We can do that by keeping our boats clean and well antifouled.

It can be difficult to tell by just looking whether a boat is a biosecurity risk or not. So it's best if we make sure our boat hull never carries more than a slime layer. We should also make sure our boat is cleaned regularly out of water and has a decent coating of antifouling paint.

Explore the links and resources below for marine biosecurity tips.

How to clean your boat MPI video

Resource

Video: How to clean your boat - Biosecurity New Zealand

Watch a video on how to clean your boat out of water and reapply antifouling paint.

Sailing in Doubtful Sound Fiordland National Park
Sailing in Doubtful Sound, Fiordland National Park

Protecting Fiordland's precious marine environment

Fiordland is a unique corner of New Zealand, surrounded by untouched native bush. It's a popular backdrop for the water activities we love. Fiordland is also home to a rich marine ecosystem.

If we're visiting Fiordland, there are some things we may need to do to protect this beautiful taonga, such as:

  • getting a clean vessel pass
  • cleaning all our diving and fishing gear
  • and having an anchoring plan.

Learn more about biosecurity protection for Fiordland EXPLORE THE FIORDLAND MARINE GUARDIANS WEBSITE

News and stories

Friends of Waiwhetu Stream Volunteers at work 1000 x 690

Story

A unique result for Friends of Waiwhetū Stream

Against the odds neighbourhood volunteers rehabilitate their local stream.

Marine Meter Squared in action 720 x 400

Story

Seashore Monitoring for Marine Pests – A Citizen Science Approach

Marine Metre Squared (Mm2) is a nationwide citizen science project that encourages the public to gather information about biodiversity, distribution and abundance of intertidal species and in doing so, ask further questions about the state of the coastal

Help Kina fight marine pests video 1200 x 720

Story

How to become an eco-ninja warrior and fight marine pests

Help 'Kina' fight marine pests. Learn what you can do to help manage marine pests in New Zealand.

More ways you can help

Biosecurity for walking, camping and biking

Biosecurity for walking, camping and biking

How we can protect what we love about outdoor adventures in the bush, forests and parks

Biosecurity at home

Biosecurity at home

What we can do at home to protect our community and way of life from pests and diseases