Mycoplasma bovis - advice for anglers

Anglers often access waterways across farms so we need to take steps to ensure that we help prevent the spread of the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

In short, the risk posed by anglers crossing through farms to access waterways is very low.

This is because the Mycoplasma bovis bacteria does not survive outside of a cow for long periods.

The main way the infection is spread is through live cattle movements. It can also be transmitted through feeding raw milk to calves and using farming equipment that has not been cleaned and disinfected between uses directly on cattle – e.g. artificial insemination and drenching equipment.

While it is ‘technically possible’ for Mycoplasma bovis to be transferred on dirty boots, vehicle tyres and other equipment, there is a very low likelihood.

Some farms may have Restricted Place Notices (RP) and/or Notices of Direction (NOD) placed on them. These are legal restrictions placed on properties of interest that restrict the movement of goods on and off the farm without a permit.

These restrictions can affect both vehicle and pedestrian access.

Fish & Game recommends that if, as an angler, you find the farm you want to cross is under an RP or NOD notice – you should find somewhere else to fish!

We advise anglers to stay away from any properties subject to Mycoplasma bovis restrictions.

It is required that anyone visiting such a farm report on arrival to the farm operator.

Visitors will be prompted by the owner or manager to strictly follow the necessary bio-security hygiene practices before they enter and leave the property.  

Properties with no Restrictions

MPI’s official advice is that as a bacterial disease, Mycoplasma bovis is spread through animal fluids (saliva, milk, serum, mucus and semen) via direct contact between an infected cow and a non-infected one.

 It can also be spread through equipment or someone’s hands that haven’t been properly washed.  It is not thought to be transmitted in urine or faeces. It is not windborne or spread in rivers and streams. 

If a farmer has visitors regularly crossing through their farm to access waterways, they may choose to introduce bio-security protocols to mitigate the low risk of them spreading Mycoplasma bovis.

For example, restricting access or providing boot cleaning facilities at access points. This is up to them.

All farm management decisions carry varying degrees of risk and farmers need to assess those risks for themselves. 

Best Practice for Anglers on Farms

Mycoplasma bovis aside - if you're moving between waterways, you must continue to clean all your gear using the usual 'Check, Clean, Dry' method. As per the check clean dry advice,

This includes disinfecting fishing gear and footwear BETWEEN waterways. If you are fishing multiple waterways in a day, ensure you have enough gear to enable you to clean and dry before going on to the next waterway.

Stay away from any farms subject to MPI restrictions.

Double check with all farmers before you visit if you are crossing their land.

Stay on the angler access pathways – don’t go anywhere else on the farm. 

Do not touch or make any contact with farm animals. 

Don’t wander - travel only on vehicle tracks or access pathways. 

Walk rather than drive across farmland as it’s far easier to decontaminate footwear than vehicles.

Wash your vehicles wheel & wheel arches before going onto a farm.

If you’re going to meet the farmer, You must follow any bio-security precautionary measures they may have put in place on a farm.

This advice has been prepared in consultation with the Ministry For Primary Industries (MPI) and Federated Farmers.

FURTHER READING:

https://www.mpi.govt.nz/protection-and-response/mycoplasma-bovis/

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