Duck hunters are being reminded to protect their patch this season by taking steps to avoid spreading aquatic pest plants and fish from one waterway to another.

"When you're heading out to enjoy the duck hunting season, remember that exotic fish species and exotic plants can be moved between waterways if you don't check, clean and dry your gear," says the Taranaki Regional Council's Environment Services Manager, Steve Ellis.

The spread of unwelcome species such as didymo, hornwort, oxygen weed and gambusia (also known as mosquito fish) is a significant issue throughout New Zealand. Use the Check, Clean, Dry process to wash anything that's been in contact with the water.

Check:
Check everything that has been in the water for debris or plant matter. For example, waders, dogs, decoys and dinghies.

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Clean:
Soak the items or scrub them with detergent (5 per cent detergent in water or 2 per cent household bleach in water) for at least one minute, getting them fully wet.

Dry:
If you're not moving to another waterway for a few days, thoroughly dry your items inside and out, and leave them for 48 hours to ensure that any pests are dead.

■ The duck shooting season runs until early July. For more details go to www.mpi.govt.nz/check-clean-dry/