The arrival on the New Zealand mainland of the plant pathogen myrtle rust is a call to arms says the country’s overarching biosecurity organisation the NZ Biosecurity Institute.
Institute president, Darion Embling said all members of the biosecurity community are on high alert or are now helping with keeping the lid on this outbreak detected on Thursday May 4th in Northland.
“If ever there was a time for all New Zealanders to be vigilant it is now.
“This pest is a game-changer for NZ,” he said.
“Now that the pathogen is here I appeal to everyone to be vigilant.”
Mr Embling said the Ministry for Primary Industries is leading the charge on this, but that it was important for all New Zealanders to support the agencies already involved particularly since early action is vital.
He said the best thing to do is follow the Ministry’s guidelines from its website, but in particular to look for purple/black splotches or patches with yellow dots on leaves and stems on plants such as feijoa, bluegum, bottlebrush, manuka, kanuka or pohutukawa.
“This stuff spreads like talcum powder so we need to be really careful.”
“Photograph and mark a suspicious site, but don’t touch anything and if you think you’ve brushed against it or come into contact in any way leave the article on the spot.
“Being a pathogen, it can be carried on anything without people’s knowledge.
Mr Embling said anyone in the vicinity of myrtle rust will be the biggest spread risk.
“It’s not going to be easy but we are all into stopping this”, he said.
The NZ Biosecurity Institute 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.
Every year the Biosecurity Institute’s members spend hundreds of hours controlling or managing the risks to the economy and the environment of the effects of introduced pests.
“This is work which 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.
For comment please contact: Darion Embling, President, New Zealand Biosecurity Institute: (07) 859 0790 | 021 605 029
Media enquiries please contact: Chris Macann, Editor, Protect Magazine - The Magazine of the New Zealand Biosecurity Institute, phone 03 34 99 660 | 021 878 001