Gone fishing – Paul Worsteling reminds us of what not to bring back on our next fishing holiday
Fishing, along with caravanning and camping, is a favourite pastime for many Aussies. Each year, tens of thousands of southerners pack up the caravan, strap the boat to the roof and head north on the trip of a lifetime, hoping for the catch of a lifetime.
But when time comes to head back home, it’s the uninvited, and often unnoticed, hitchhikers that have potential to do more damage than a croc in the Darwin municipal swimming pool.
Northern Australia is home to many creatures, plants and plant pathogens that are not welcome in the rice-growing areas of southern New South Wales and northern Victoria. These pests have the potential to wreak havoc with rice production – devastating crops and harming local communities. Wild northern strains of rice occur widely across the north of Australia in and around freshwater systems.
Seeds and plant parts of these wild rice strains have the potential to carry serious pests and diseases, like rice weevil and rice blast, that may impact rice crops in the south.
There are thousands of insect species in the north that do not occur in rice-growing regions of southern Australia. All it takes is for one of these critters to hitch a ride, and rice growers could be looking at new major threats requiring expensive chemical controls.
And don’t forget water weeds. Invasive plants like water lettuce can hitch a ride under boats and trailers, ready for the next launch to float off freely and infest a new dam or river.
So remember to do your part on your next trip. Before you head for home, clean down your boat and gear thoroughly to remove any mud, slime, plant seeds, insects and other unwanted critters. By all means, bring home your happy snaps, but leave the nasties where they belong, and help protect Australia’s world-class rice growers.