4.7 Million Sets of Eyes and Ears Vital for Biosecurity

July is Biosecurity Month – a month dedicated to promoting the importance of biosecurity to the country.

Those who work in the sector reckon New Zealanders should celebrate it as much as they do the All Blacks and Team New Zealand.

Biosecurity sector group the New Zealand Biosecurity Institute wants New Zealanders to know it’s not just sailing and rugby that Kiwis are world beaters at.

President Darion Embling said New Zealand is also recognised around the globe as a world champion of biosecurity.

“If there was a world cup for biosecurity we’d win it but we have to keep at it and we too need a support team of 4.7 million,” he said.

Mr Embling said the arrival of the plant killer Myrtle rust this year, which threatens important horticultural and iconic native plants, is a wake-up reminder that everyone must be vigilant.

myrtle-rust-on-leaves

Mr Embling said the next serious imminent threat is the agricultural pest the brown marmorated stink bug which is native to Asia but has spread to Europe and the Americas with devastating effects.

“The pest so far has been kept at bay but border control staff have intercepted them on a number of occasions at sites within New Zealand.

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“So far we have managed to prevent its establishment but we need 4.7 million sets of eyes and ears because we don’t know if there are small populations already present.”

He said New Zealand is fortunate to have a world class biosecurity system.

“Our pre and post-border surveillance system is second-to-none, and so is our research.”

Mr Embling said his members want to see the Biosecurity Sector have a high profile in the community as well as in the education curriculum.

"I'd like the word "biosecurity" to be as common a catch-cry for all New Zealanders as the phrase "location, location, location".

Biosecurity month occurs every July in the run-up to the NZ Biosecurity Institute's combined annual National Education and Training Seminars (NETS). This year NETS is in Wellington 9-11 August.

Mr Embling said every year, in the course of their jobs, NZBI members spend hundreds of hours controlling or managing the risks to the economy and the environment from the effects of unwanted pests.

“This work costs the country hundreds of millions of dollars each year through control, research and border control budgets. This money is coming out of all New Zealanders’ pockets,” he said.

“We need everyone to play a part in protecting what’s precious and unique about New Zealand.”

The NZBI is the professional training and networking organisation for people involved in biosecurity. Its 450 members work for research organisations, educational institutions, regional councils and government departments.

All are involved in protecting NZ from invasive species.

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MEDIA RELEASE

From The New Zealand Biosecurity Institute

June 28, 2017