News

July is Biosecrity Month

Didymo, emperor penguins, old man's beard and great white butterflies all have something in common - they are some of the new plants, animals, or microbes constantly arriving on our shores.

New Zealand has a wide network of biosecurity measures to try to avoid them getting far, but some do get through. July is Biosecurity Month, set up to raise awareness of the pests that can cause damage to our environment, economy and health.

"Happy Feet" the emperor penguin that arrived in 2011 was one of the more welcome and popular arrivals. Others such as didymo, or rock snot, which arrived in 2004 are not as popular or easy to control.

Closer to home the great white butterfly was discovered in Nelson in 2010. It has been the subject of a major eradication project since then in an attempt to stop it spreading. It is a major threat to many of our native cress species and to vegetable crops such as broccoli and cauliflower.

When biosecurity is mentioned most people think of the inspectors at our international airports who check passengers' luggage on arrival and X-ray it to try to stop any new diseases, plants or animals crossing our borders. It's not so usual to think of DOC staff inspecting luggage for the same reasons.

It is part of every Department of Conservation ranger's job, however, to ensure they do not spread weeds or diseases between the places they work in, and sometimes it is not that easy. Try cleaning a digger sufficiently before taking it to maintain or build a track. Or checking hundreds of bags of potting mix used for propagating native plants.

For a number of local staff it's a big part of their job to quarantine work equipment and personal gear going to islands such as Motuara or Long in Queen Charlotte Sound – Tōtaranui and Takapourewa (Stephens) or Te Paateka (Maud) in the Pelorus. They've seen everything from live spiders to teddy bears in gear. Even brand new gumboots straight from the shop full of seeds!

For more on what you can do to help click here.

 
 

Biosecurity No1 Priority.

Ensuring a world-class biosecurity system has again been rated as the ''No1'' priority by New Zealand's primary industry leaders.They were surveyed as part of KPMG's annual Agribusiness Agenda, to gauge the priority they attached to a range of strategic issues facing the primary sector.

Improving the country's biosecurity framework topped the list for the fifth consecutive year, while delivery of rural broadband moved up four places to share the second ranking with the importance of food safety.

Concerns surrounding biosecurity weaknesses were similar to those of previous years and included the ''holes'' in border inspection protocols, unrestricted importation of high-risk products, such as palm kernel extract, and concerns about the practical implications of Government Industry Agreements.

The view was expressed it was ''more by luck than good management'' that New Zealand did not experience more incursions.

It was also noted the identification of the Queensland fruit fly, in Auckland, earlier this year, demonstrated protection systems were working as intended.

In his foreword to the agenda, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said biosecurity remained his ''No1 priority''.

This year's Budget included $27 million in new funding for biosecurity, which would mean more dogs, X-ray machines and resources.

In April, he announced the Biosecurity 2025 project which would update and replace the 2003 Biosecurity Strategy, which was the founding document of New Zealand's biosecurity system.

Raed more....

 
 

NETS2015 Registration Open

Registration for NETS2015 is Now Open

NETS2015 is being held at the University of Otago, Dunedin. There are plenty of accomodation options within walking distance of the venue. Bookings need to be made directly with the accommodation provider.

The Learning Never Stops

26 - 28 August

University of Otago, Dunedin

Download the Registration Brochure by clicking here.

Registration now open.

 
   

Articles for Protect?

Reminder - Calling for contributions to the July (Winter) edition of Protect Magazine.

I am now preparing the Winter issue of Protect due at the beginning of July, and am keen to hear from as many of you as possible.

I am particularly interested in hearing about any projects in July which could be used for promoting Biosecurity Month in the lead up to NETS2015.

Contributions can be news about projects, branch news, information about papers and conferences - all information regarding biosecurity you would like to share.

Project welcomes tips from members and profiles of new as well as senior members.

You are also welcome to send a photograph of yourself for inclusion with the article. Please attempt to send all photographs as stand-alone files (un-embedded) and with clear captions identifying everyone in the photo.

Managers and team leaders please encourage your staff to send articles about themselves and their activities.

All stories relating to biosecurity are welcome.

If you would like to send an article to Protect please send it to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it by 5pm Friday June 19 or send a note advising that an article (perhaps a report on an upcoming event) is coming soon.

Please try to get your contributions in as early as possible.

Thank you all for your support of Protect Magazine.

Best wishes as always

Chris Macann

Protect Magazine editor

03 34 99 660 | 021 878 001

 
 

Send Stoats back to Blighty?

They may be hated pests that love eating our cherished native birds, but pesky introduced stoats have just become a little more interesting to scientists overseas.

Just-published DNA comparisons have revealed that the stoats lurking in our wilderness include several genetic types that have long been lost from populations in their native Britain, prompting scientists to ask whether this diversity may even be worth bringing back home to Blighty.

Our stoats are descendants of those imported in the late 1800s to control rabbit numbers, which reached plague proportions after their introduction for food and sport.

Since then, stoats have been implicated in the extinction of bush wrens, laughing owls and the native thrush, and have been a major cause in the decline of kiwi, kokako, takahe, kaka and kakapo.

The Department of Conservation recently declared them "public enemy number one" for birds and the Government has poured millions of dollars into 1080 poison drops and research to control them.

However, new New Zealand-led research published in the journal Molecular Ecology has found that when the stoat population in Britain crashed, their expat relatives in this country conserved a reservoir of genetic diversity.

"History has demonstrated that even well-intentioned introductions of species to non-native habitats are almost always a bad idea," said Professor Robbie McDonald, of the University of Exeter.

"That said, as a result of a series of misguided introductions, we have accidentally created an 'invasive ark' for genetic diversity in New Zealand.

"It would be a fascinating long-term experiment to return native genotypes back to Britain from New Zealand and see whether it re-established among its ancestors."

Fellow author Dr Andrew Veale, formerly at the University of Auckland, said that while invasive, non-native species were a global cause of biodiversity loss, "our results show that sometimes these introduced populations may paradoxically conserve diversity lost from their native range - and potentially this diversity may be worth protecting".

Auckland University co-author Professor Mick Clout said the discovery that they had a higher genetic diversity here than back in their homeland was "intriguing". But that did not mean New Zealand stoats had any value or were worth protecting.

"If the Brits wanted to have them, then fine, but we are not going to compromise our control because of genetic diversity."

- NZ Herald

 
   

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