Lindavia present as lake snow on a filter
Image: Waikato Regional Council | ©


We help prevent the spread of freshwater pests by working with organisations, being involved in a research programme, and following guidelines and legislation.

Freshwater pest control is all about teamwork

There are many dedicated groups, organisations, and agencies alongside which we work to stop the spread of freshwater pests within our waterways:

Although we all share the common goal of stopping the spread of freshwater pests, Organisations have responsibilities under different pieces of legislation. For this reason, it is recommended that you also check your local regional council’s Regional Pest Management Plan and contact them if necessary.

A species has not yet been detected within the country is known as a new to Aotearoa New Zealand species and MPI (0800 809 966) should be contacted in the first instance.

DOC’s responsibility

Under the Conservation Act (1987), DOC has a responsibility to preserve so far as is practicable all indigenous freshwater fisheries and protect recreational freshwater fisheries and freshwater fish habitat.

As public conservation land does not always encompass whole catchments, our responsibilities extend beyond the land we administer. It is for this reason working with local groups and organisations is vital for the containment of freshwater pests.

Our main aim is the containment of four aquatic pests which have the highest potential to expand to regions where they are not present. To achieve this, we follow four core principles:

  • preventing establishment of new populations
  • containing existing populations to prevent further spread
  • eradicating invasive species from sites where practicable
  • managing invasive species at high priority sites to minimise effects on biodiversity and ecosystems.

New Zealand invasive fish management handbook.

Freshwater Biosecurity Research Programme

DOC also conducts research investment through our Freshwater Biosecurity Research Programme.

The Freshwater Biosecurity Research and Development (BRAD) Strategy has been developed to align with Te Mana O Te Taiao 2020. The strategy will provide strategic direction and aligns with priorities under the DOC-led biosecurity research for the next three years (2022-2025) with the aim of:

  • improving management tools for all freshwater pest species, including raising awareness
  • developing methods and tools to reduce reproduction of pest species and better target control efforts
  • optimising the use of control methods and tools developed in other countries for conditions in New Zealand
  • fostering an innovative culture in New Zealand for research of control methods
  • developing a better understanding of the environmental impacts freshwater pest species have on native ecosystems
  • promoting opportunities for collaboration with experts in fields that cover ecological, biophysical, social, cultural, economic, and other areas.

Collaboration opportunities

Freshwater pest management cannot be done alone, the Freshwater Biosecurity workstream is a part of the Freshwater Biosecurity Partnership Programme. This partnership seeks collaboration with Regional Councils, Fish & Game, hydroelectricity generators, government agencies and many other members who are involved with the management of freshwater pests.

Also, collaborative research programmes and initiatives will be developed and undertaken with whānau, hapū, and iwi who have strong interests in freshwater biosecurity.

The intention of BRAD Strategy is to create better science outcomes for all of Aotearoa New Zealand. The findings will be shared both internally and externally and aimed at a wide range of audiences. This could be in the form of interactive tools and events for children, helpful guides for land owners, interviews or other short media initiatives.

For further information on specific areas of research or the prioritisation framework, contact DOC’s National Freshwater Biosecurity team.

Permits and legislation

There are various pieces of legislation that include freshwater environments and ways to help reduce threats such as pests.

Conservation Act 1987

A permit from the Minister of Conservation is needed to introduce any aquatic life (native or introduced fish, plants, or invertebrates) into an area where they do not already occur, otherwise, you could be liable for a fine of $5,000. A permit from the Minister of Fisheries (MPI) is also required for the movement of live aquatic life between locations where the species is known it be present.

Freshwater Fisheries Regulations 1983

The approval of Fish & Game New Zealand is required to hold live sports fish and gambusia.

Biosecurity Act 1993 (Unwanted Organism)

It is illegal to move, release, spread, sell (or offer for sale), display, propagate, or breed unwanted organisms. There is a $100,000 fine or five years imprisonment for people caught doing so. Koi carp, gambusia, and hornwort are all listed as unwanted organisms.

Freshwater Fish Regulations 1983 (Noxious Fish)

Both koi carp and rudd are classified as noxious fish. People who possess, control, rear, raise, hatch or consign noxious fish without authority are liable for a fine of $5,000.  This includes forms of fishing. The only exception is in the Fish & Game Auckland/Waikato Region where rudd can be fished with a licence. See Fish & Game for further information.

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