Help us stop the spread of ecosystem destroyer

Published on 21 July 2017

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MidCoast Council weed officers are calling on all local residents to check their home aquariums and ponds after this week's discovery of the Amazon Frogbit aquatic weed near Forster triggered an emergency response to control the spread of the weed.

"This is the first time Amazon Frogbit has been found in a natural area in NSW and is a significant find. The weed is classed as Prohibited Matter under the new Biosecurity Act 2015 and as a result an emergency response is now underway. Council is working closely with Hunter Local Land Services, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI)" said Council's Strategic Weeds Biosecurity Officer Terry Inkson.

"Various activities have been implemented including a first pass treatment of the infestation and private property inspections in the immediate vicinity" said Terry.

Amazon Frogbit originates from fresh water habitats of tropical and subtropical Central and South America. Although in the early stages of establishment in Australia, these weeds have the potential to seriously degrade Australia’s ecosystems if left untreated.

The weed was found when a local bushwalker emailed Council photographs of a suspicious plant growing on a secluded pond in bushland near Forster. Council officers immediately followed up with an onsite visit and upon closer inspection the plant was confirmed to be Amazon Frogbit.

In Australia, the weed is often purchased illegally online, on sites such as Gumtree and eBay, by unsuspecting aquarium owners and can spread to natural waterways accidentally or via deliberate dumping of garden and aquarium waste.

"We're calling on local aquarium owners and those who have ponds or dams on their properties to assist us over the next few weeks to help eradicate Frogbit from our local area" says Terry. "If you suspect you might have found Amazon Frogbit, please contact us at once, on 6591 7222 for advice and a meeting.

There are extremely heavy fines for offences committed under the Biosecurity Act 2015. Even purchasing prohibited plants online could place you at risk. "However, we're more interested in locating and destroying this serious weed than penalising people who may have been unaware they were committing an offence" says Terry.

With this in mind, we are announcing an amnesty for anyone who calls us before 31 August 2017 - we will not fine you if you report the weed and all calls will be treated as confidential.

We advise consumers to "do your homework" before purchasing any plant online, as you could be purchasing prohibited matter.

Below: The location near Forster infested with the Amazon Frogbit.

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