Pesky catfish have grown to record numbers in Rotorua lakes over the past two years but one 9-year-old is making a record number of catches.
Alex Malcolm has been hunting the whiskered fish since "the end of term one" and can tell you the exact number he has caught over the short space of time.
"556," he said with a grin wider than a Cheshire Cat.
"I'm not giving it up anytime soon because it is something I can do in my own time. I like being out on the lake."
On Monday, Alex, as part of Te Arawa Lakes Trust Catfish Killas, won the New Zealand Biosecurity Supreme Award and also received the New Zealand Biosecurity Department of Conservation Community Pihinga Award.
It was the top honour at the 2019 New Zealand Biosecurity Awards which acknowledged people across New Zealand who contributed to biosecurity.
With each catfish able to produce up to 6000 eggs there was no room for complacency and Alex was happy to continue the fight and keep our lakes free of their mess.
"Otherwise the catfish will just end up eating everything in our lake."
As the summer months come, Alex warned catfish numbers were likely to increase if people were not vigilant and eggs started to hatch.
Catfish Killas co-ordinator William Anaru said the real beauty of the project was how different people worked together to combine up-to-date science with tikanga Māori:
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"It's a great example of a biosecurity initiative using a Te Ao Māori approach to a contemporary issue.
"Guided by mātauraga Māori and practical research, this initiative is a testament to true collaboration between mana whenua and local and central government."
Bay of Plenty Regional Council's Lucas Macdonald, which funded the initiative, said the education component was critical as many boaties visited from outside the region and might not understand the catfish threat.
"It's really important for people to realise that boats spread these pest fish.
"The fish get transported along with aquatic weed in boat trailers so it's crucial to remember the check, clean, dry message and make sure your boat is clear- especially when moving between waterways."