Agen­cies’ tug-of-war over dead koura

South Waikato News - - Front Page - EL­TON RIKIHANA SMALLMAN

In­ves­ti­ga­tors into a pos­si­ble con­tam­i­na­tion of a South Waikato stream were left guess­ing af­ter a bu­reau­cratic tug-of-war over three tiny aquatic crit­ters.

Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil’s search for an­swers into the deaths of hun­dreds of fresh­wa­ter koura at the Oraka Stream, Pu­taruru, was ru­ined by a slack min­istry re­sponse to a po­ten­tial biose­cu­rity dis­as­ter, in­ves­ti­ga­tions and in­ci­dent re­sponse man­ager Pa­trick Lynch told the En­vi­ron­men­tal and Ser­vices Per­for­mance Com­mit­tee last Wed­nes­day.

A trout fish­er­man dis­cov­ered the dead and dy­ing koura on De­cem­ber 20, 2016. Coun­cil con­tacted the Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries (MPI) on the same day but Lynch said they failed to at­tend.

‘‘By early to mid-jan­uary, we got con­tacted by the MPI,’’ Lynch said.

An over­seas sci­en­tist, made aware by me­dia in­ter­est, pointed out to the min­istry the deaths could be a re­sult of crayfish plague - a dis­ease not found in New Zealand that would have trig­gered a quar­an­tine and forced the alert of trade part­ners, Lynch said.

‘‘There was a tug-of-war over a cou­ple of days be­tween me and MPI be­cause we only had these three koura,’’ Lynch said.

Lynch said al­though the num­ber of koura col­lected by re­gional coun­cil staff was small, it sat­is­fied its level of in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

But the in­creased risk of crayfish plague forced coun­cil to hand over it’s three sam­ples to MPI.

The MPI dis­sec­tion of tiny an­i­mals, at an an­i­mal health lab­o­ra­tory in Wellington, found no trace of crayfish plague and left very lit­tle else to be tested - less than one gram of koura re­mained. The min­i­mum sam­ple for coun­cil’s anal­y­sis was 20 grams.

But fur­ther ex­am­i­na­tion of the stream gave it the all clear.

‘‘We’re sur­mis­ing that there has been a sin­gle strike in­ci­dent in a trib­u­tary up­stream and a colony of koura that have been im­pacted.’’

The Min­istry did not re­spond to emails but in a Fe­bru­ary state­ment said it re­lies on lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and com­mu­ni­ties to sup­port its in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.