Water hyacinth sellers in deep water
24 May 2016
Agriculture Victoria is sending a message to Victorians – know what aquatic plants you are buying, selling and growing, as they may be illegal.
Agriculture Victoria Biosecurity Officer Annie Lamb said three people have been caught selling water hyacinth so far this financial year.
Last August a man was prosecuted for displaying, possessing and selling water hyacinth on the online shopping service Gumtree. He was given a six month good behaviour bond and ordered to make a $1,000 donation to the Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens.
In January a woman was fined and given a 12 month good behaviour bond for similar offences.
More recently, a woman was offering water hyacinth for sale on Gumtree and Facebook and may face the Magistrates Court later this year.
Sixty-four water hyacinth plants were removed from a backyard pond and more plants were subsequently removed from two other properties.
Due to its attractive flower and popularity in other countries, water hyacinth is regularly reported being sold at markets. However, according to Ms Lamb, a good deal of trade in noxious weed species goes unreported.
"Many people selling water hyacinth don't know what the plant is, so they don't realise they are selling a State prohibited weed," she said.
"The sale is often opportunistic. People have bought plants that grow rapidly and have a pretty flower, they on-sell them and, in doing so, spread this invasive species throughout the community."
She said water hyacinth originates from Brazil and is a highly invasive plant that can form dense mats across waterways, rendering them unusable for transport and recreation.
Infestations can also kill aquatic life by blocking light and reducing oxygen levels in the water.
"Once it enters a waterway it can be very expensive to control," Ms Lamb said.
"Water hyacinth is widespread in countries like Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and parts of eastern Australia, but it is currently not established in Victoria.
"Efforts to prevent it spreading and causing major damage to waterways are a priority for Victoria."
Ms Lamb said the Victorian Government is responsible for the eradication of State prohibited weeds, like water hyacinth, and Agriculture Victoria will remove the weeds at no cost to the landholder.
"Anyone who sells plants, whether it is via a nursery or a car boot sale, needs to confirm the identity of the plants they are selling. This will prevent high risk invasive plants from spreading across Victoria."
"If you think you may have water hyacinth plants or have seen them, please contact us on 136 186 immediately."
For more information about water hyacinth and invasive plant management visit the Agriculture Victoria website or call the Customer Service Centre on 136 186.
Categorised under: Agriculture,Prosecution