The enemy is already here according to the group promoting July as the month of awareness for biosecurity issues.
The New Zealand Biosecurity Institute which promotes Biosecurity Month each July says good science and people power are the secrets to keeping the country's emerging pests under control.
NZBI President Rebecca Kemp said there can be a huge time lag from when new organisms arrive in New Zealand until they become pests.
"Ornamental garden plants that have been in New Zealand for a long time, but have now 'jumped the fence' and moved into natural areas are a major issue," Ms Kemp said.
"The same is true for animal pests. It's no longer just mammals like possums and mustelids cats or rats that are a biosecurity problem. Pest birds too, like Indian ringnecks and sulphur crested cockatoos are increasing in the wild."
She said non-native reptiles like bearded dragons and red eared slider turtles are appearing in the wild in numerous locations across the country. Pest fish, aquatic plants, and invertebrates like the guava moth are a concern as well.
"These potential or major pests are beginning to establish outside the confines of home gardens, aquariums and aviaries. Once they establish in the wild it is often too late," she said.
"The trick is to explore all the ways we can to work out which of these species will become pests. The secret to this is "people power" because early detection of future pests and good gardening and pet-keeping practices are essential to successful eradication, which is by far the best option."
Ms Kemp said in Auckland last year biosecurity workers were alerted to a new variety of the plant pest knotweed from China.
"The plant had been cultivated from just two cutting given to the owner about a decade ago, most likely because of the plant's alleged medicinal properties. It is now smothering the property and at least five adjoining properties.
"This has highlighted the herbal medicine market and demand within New Zealand. Our concern is that this close-knit community is growing and distributing species including knotweeds.
"The big questions are how abundant are these species, and what are we yet to find?"
Ms Kemp said Institute members have over the past 18 months been involved in two very high-profile pest responses.
"The first was a long but successful response to eradicate the Queensland fruit fly, and the other, more recently was the plant pest velvet leaf which has now unfortunately become an established agricultural weed here."
Ms Kemp said every year Institute 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," she said.
The NZ Biosecurity Institute is the professional organisation for people protecting New Zealand from invasive species. Its 450 members work for research organisations, educational institutions, regional councils and government departments.
Institute members will gather in Auckland at the end of this month for their annual conference which this year has as its theme: "Emerging threats in diverging communities".
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
For comment please contact: Rebecca Kemp, President, New Zealand Biosecurity Institute: 021 222 9076
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
NOTE FOR EDITORS
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.
By Chris Macann,
Editor, "Protect Magazine", The Magazine of the New Zealand Biosecurity Institute
EXAMPLES OF PATHWAYS FOR SPREADING PESTS
Chinese medicinal plants:
Auckland Council Biosecurity staff detected a 'new to New Zealand' knotweed located within the New Lynn area in May 2015. The plant was identified as Fallopia multiflora, also known as Fo-Ti, fleece flower root and He Shou Wu. This is native to central and south China.
The species was found close to a known site of Japanese/Asiatic knotweed (Fallopia japonica, F. sachalinensis). The property where the new knotweed has originated from is owned by a Chinese man who has cultivated the plant from two cuttings. It is now smothering his property and currently spreading into five adjoining properties. Cuttings were given to him approximately 10-years ago by an elderly Chinese man. Biosecurity staff know that there is at least one other infestation in the New Lynn area as it was propagated from cuttings.
The plant is used mainly for its tubers, and highly regarded for its medicinal properties. The concern is that this close-knit community is growing and distributing species including the knotweeds.
The weed rough horsetail (Equisetum hyemale) is now showing up in the wild in Marlborough and elsewhere. This very striking plant has been commonly propagated for use in floristry and also oriental-style landscaping. All species of Equisetum are classified as unwanted organisms but the naïve garden/floristry trade could still be operating.
In 2014 pond and aquarium owners in the Bay of Plenty were asked in to check for the invasive pest plant hornwort, following the accidental sale of the aquatic weed from a pet store. Many aquarium plants such as hornwort, lagarosiphon, egeria and hydrilla are on the National Pest Plant Accord list of plants that cannot be sold, propagated or distributed in New Zealand.
The aquatic plant pest parrots feather was found in the Bexley Wetland in Christchurch after the earthquakes. It is thought it got there from aquarium dumping after the earthquakes as it was close to the pathway through the wetland and behind houses.
Goldfish ending up in waterways is becoming an increasing problem. Pond species such as perch, tench, rudd, cat fish and carp all degrade the quality of New Zealand's freshwater habitats.
Institute members have had reports of increased numbers of roosters on Waiheke Island among other places throughout New Zealand.
Institute members are finding non-native reptiles like bearded dragons, along with red eared slider turtles in numerous locations across Northland and Auckland as well as Wellington and other parts of the country.
Canterbury members are reporting increased numbers of peacocks in the wild on Christchurch's Port Hills as well as sulphur-crested cockatoos and eastern rosellas which have also established elsewhere. Agencies are working together in the Waikato Region to investigate a known wild population of ring neck parakeets. It is now illegal to release them because they have been listed as an unwanted organism under the Biosecurity Act 1993.
Wellington members report a number of the aquatic plant pest eelgrass sites, and a red eared slider turtle population in the Hutt River, as well as various stray cat colonies resulting from pet dumping.
Canterbury members report continual problems in the Waimakariri Riverbed where there is clear evidence of pest plants establishing following the tipping of garden waste. An infestation of Senegal tea was found in the Waimakariri River area, most likely the result of garden dumping.
The aquatic plant pest Senegal tea took over a pond in Auckland when it was transferred amongst water lilies from a nearby pond.