Environment Canterbury warns against whitebaiters using detergent

Keeping our waterways ‘clean’ does not mean people can squeeze detergent into them.  That’s the message from Environment Canterbury to a small number of whitebaiters that have been found using washing up detergent, as well as cooking oil, to help improve water clarity where they are whitebaiting.

Enforcement officers have been investigating instances of whitebaiters discharging these products into rivers around Canterbury, including the Avon River and the mouth of the Orari River.

Environment Canterbury’s principal surface water scientist, Adrian Meredith, said the fishers approached did not seem to be aware of the consequences of discharging contaminants into the waterway.

“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.

“Both detergent and cooking oil impact on aquatic communities – detergents can have a range of negative effects including damaging fish gills, removing the external mucus layer of fish and increasing their susceptibility to organic chemicals.  Detergents can also 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,” he said.

Environment Canterbury will be monitoring some whitebaiting spots but is also relying on members of the public to understand that they should not be adding products to the waterways.

“Most people are doing the right thing but – for those that aren’t – we want to ask them to stop this practice,” said Mr Meredith.