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....


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


Pest wasps are costing New Zealand's economy $130 million a year.

Pest wasps are costing New Zealand's economy $130 million a year, a new study says.

The impact of the introduced pests included wasp-related traffic incidents, costing $1.4 million a year, and more than $1 million in health costs from wasp stings.

But the greatest impact was on farming, beekeeping, horticulture and forestry, the study said.

More information......


Nothing Funny About Easter Bunny

Great spotted kiwi chick and Easter Egg. Photo Willowbank Wildlife Reserve webIt's part of Easter every year but it's not cute or cuddly nor is it a friend of farmers. The NZ Biosecurity Institute says it's a costly example of the effects of introduced plants and pests and it's high time the Easter Bunny was replaced.
Institute President, Rebecca Kemp said her members think it would be appropriate to find a heroic icon for Easter rather than the rabbit along with its villainous history in New Zealand.
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.
Ms Kemp reckons it's high time the kiwi flew at Easter.
"The symbols around Easter have come from many historic and cultural origins, so why not put our own slant on Easter?" she said.
"The obvious choice would be the kiwi. It lays one of the largest eggs of any animal in the world, which is entirely appropriate for Easter".
Rebecca-KempMs Kemp said equally significant is that it is endangered because of the effects of introduced predators.
"We're not trying to replace the Easter Bunny with an Easter Kiwi, but to give the commercial side of Easter a more New Zealand emphasis, and in so doing, help raise awareness of all pests, both plant and animal."
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," she said.
The idea of replacing the Easter Bunny is not new.
In Canterbury, Institute members have in the past promoted a competition at Easter asking people to suggest a more appropriate icon to replace the Easter Bunny. Easter Kiwi was usually the frontrunner.
New Zealand is not alone in the call.
Australia has run similar promotions resulting in their Easter Bilby which has caught on to various degrees.
"Like the Kiwi, the Bilby is endangered so what better Easter icon," Ms Kemp said.
NZBI members in the course of their work have been involved in other creative ways of promoting their animal and plant pest management work.
The call to replace the Easter Bunny is one of many animal and plant pest awareness programmes carried out over the years.
Previously at the annual MacKenzie Highland Show bar-b-qued rabbit sausages (hot rabbits rather than hot dogs) and bunny burgers have been an alternative approach to highlighting the rabbit scourge that infests Canterbury.
In Northland, event snacks made from pests as a way of raising awareness of this issue have included wasp larvae ice-cream, as well as possum and goat meat pies, crackers topped with possum pate, wild rabbit sausages and breakfast sausages flavoured with spicy native plants.
Chocolate kiwiAll are friendly ways to promote the more serious side of Institute members' work.
"It is very hard to get the message across that although these look like cute cuddly creatures they are not welcome here".
Ms Kemp said an animal or plant is a pest because of where it is, not what it is.
The rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) introduced into New Zealand illegally in 1997 is still having some effect on keeping rabbit numbers down, but Ms Kemp said Canterbury and Otago members are reporting 70 per cent of rabbits now being immune to it, so it is no longer the major player it was.
Ms Kemp said It is timely that Institute members from local and government authorities, and research organisations have recently been involved managing the discovery of a pest which must never be allowed to establish here - the Queensland fruit fly.
By Chris Macann,


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