IN THE NEWS: Canterbury whitebaiters found using detergent to clear water for fishing

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IN THE NEWS: On NOV 1, 2017

Whitebaiters have been using detergent to clear water they are fishing in, Environment Canterbury (ECan) says.

Enforcement officers have found whitebaiters discharging detergent and cooking oil into rivers around Canterbury, including the Avon River in Christchurch and the mouth of the Orari River in South Canterbury.

In a statement, ECan said whitebaiters used the products to improve water clarity where they were fishing.

ECan principal surface water scientist Adrian Meredith said whitebaiters spoken to by officers did not seem to be aware of the consequences of discharging contaminants into waterways.

"It is actually illegal to add these products into the water and could result in enforcement action, but – more importantly – it could be very harmful to the river ecology and the fish that live there."

He said detergents damaged fish gills, removed their external mucus layer, increased their susceptibility to organic chemicals,and could promote algal blooms.

"When it comes to cooking oil, it can coat aquatic organisms in the water and reduce their oxygen intake – which we really don't want to happen."

Meredith said ECan monitored some whitebaiting spots, but relied on members of the public to understand they should not be adding products to waterways.

"Most people are doing the right thing but – for those that aren't – we want to ask them to stop this practice."

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