News

No cut to biosecurity funding

In June this year primary industries minister Natahan Guy reacted to criticism of cuts in biosecurity funding.

“To make it crystal clear, funding has not been cut for biosecurity in Budget 2013” Minister Guy said

According to the minister appropriations for ‘border biosecurity monitoring and clearance’ were temporarily higher in last year’s Budget because $5 million was brought forward from last year to pay for the Joint Border Management System as well as $1 million for the merger to create the Ministry for Primary Industries.

“Biosecurity is my number one priority as Minister, and overall funding has doubled since 2000. We now have a major programme of work underway to improve what is already a world-class system.

Mr Guy said his ministry is working closely with Australia on foot and mouth preparedness and that a recent Auditor-General report noted that MPI has been successful in responding to incursions, and plans are being updated to deal with pests, improve surveillance and targeting, and hold ongoing regular exercises and simulations.

He said the Sustainable Farming Fund is investing $8.8 million into 42 projects including biological controls for pests.

 
 

Welcome fine for trouser fish smuggler‏

The Ministry for Primary Industries has applauded the fine handed down to a Vietnamese man who tried to smuggle tropical fish into New Zealand in his trouser pockets.

The man pleaded guilty early in September to a charge under the Biosecurity Act 1993. He was fined $2000 after being convicted for the attempted possession of unauthorised goods, knowing they were unauthorised.

Border officials intercepted the man in August at Auckland airport with seven live fish in his pockets in plastic bags. He was picked up after water was seen dripping down his trouser legs.

The judge said he found it difficult to believe Mr Nguyen was ignorant of New Zealand’s biosecurity law, and called Mr Nguyen’s actions a “clumsy attempt” to smuggle the fish into the country.

“This is someone who deliberately broke our biosecurity laws. The individual concerned clearly gave little consideration about the risk this type of behaviour poses to New Zealand’s primary industries and native flora and fauna,” said Dave Blake, MPI Investigation Manager North.

“The fish could have been carrying any manner of disease or pest. That’s why this country has strict biosecurity import regulations,” he said.

 
 

Scorpion Sting

Four people will be appearing in the Queenstown and Christchurch District Courts after being caught by Ministry for Primary Industries investigators allegedly smuggling live scorpions into Queenstown.

Four men are charged with various breaches to the Biosecurity Act 1993 after six Black Rock Scorpions (Urodacus manicatus) were allegedly smuggled from Australia through Christchurch International Airport and then into Queenstown.

In April this year, MPI received information that a Queenstown man was in possession of scorpion. As a result of this information a search was carried out in April and a live scorpion was discovered.

Further investigations revealed four men were involved in the smuggling ring and that all of the scorpions had been destroyed. MPI is satisfied that all of the smuggled scorpions have been accounted for.

The maximum penalty for each of the charges faced by the men is five years in prison or a fine of $100,000.

South Island Compliance Manager, John Slaughter says this type of alleged offending is up there with the worst of its kind, and could have had serious biosecurity implications had the scorpions escaped.

“We have expert advice that these scorpions could survive in the New Zealand climate, so it’s safe to say that we view this as an exceptionally stupid thing to do.”

Black Rock Scorpions

The Black Rock Scorpion is a dark-coloured species that can grow up to 55mm in length and is often found living under rocks and logs in Australia. Its sting can cause inflammation and pain for several hours in humans. It is a relatively long-lived species and can survive for eight years or more in the wild.

 
   

Advice for newcomers

Here are two helpful snippets from Institute President Rebecca Kemp:

Watch closely how the older members of your team deal with a situation, their method has likely been refined over a number of years and will save you the heart ache of too many mistakes.

Secondly, don’t be afraid to try suggest or try something new, although there are many cleaver Biosecurity practitioners in the industry a fresh eye can often solve a problem that we have been looking at for some time.

 
 

Profile: President Rebecca Kemp

This month we meet new Institute President Rebecca Kemp, Biosecurity Pest Plant Specialist at Auckland Council

Time in the job: eight plus years

What motivates you to be involved in biosecurity?

There are three main factors for my choice to be involved in Biosecurity. The first is the passionate people that I work with in the community really make the job. There are so many community groups in New Zealand working to make a real difference to their environment and there are some fantastic successes that keep me motivated to ensure that I assist them to achieve even more. The second is the professional's that I get to work with, colleagues with passion and drive who live to ensure our natural environment is protected and enhanced. The third is the motivation and high that the small successes and achievements that we make each day and week towards protection of our environment. This is what makes me stay involved and care so much about my job.

What has been your career path to your current position?

I have a degree in Applied Science Agriculture, my initial career path was not toward Biosecurity. It was water quality and pollution prevention. I spent sometime in the private sector with waste management companies and moved to a Rural Pollution role, I processed resource consents for dairy discharges, piggeries and poultry farms as well as carrying out an enforcement role for discharges for six years. Biosecurity became an option eight years ago following funding work in our region which combined both roles. My Biosecurity position also provided me with a chance to do less policing work and become more involved in engaging the community.

What makes up a normal day for you?

Every day is different. Some are spent with paper work, while others can involve urgent call-outs. Some weeks even involve roughing it on an island somewhere in the Hauraki Gulf. Great Barrier is my favourite place to rough it. Other days may see me bush bashing through the Puhoi area looking for old man's beard. Once I even had to assist in the removal of a stoat from an office in the middle of Orewa. There is one guarantee with the job though, that no day will ever be the same.

What do you enjoy the most about your job?

The varied nature of the job, there isn't an excuse to be bored.

 
   

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