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.


Trevor James wins Peter Ingram Award

Trevor James is this year’s recipient of the Peter Ingram Memorial Award. Here is a summary of Paul Champoin’s presentation speech to Trevor. The nomination is a combination of information supplied by Ian Popay, Anis Rahman, Wendy Mead, Carolyn Lewis and Paul Champion.

Trevor joined the weeds team of the DSIR at Ruakura in early 1974.

The weeds team, nationally, was big back then, with most staff in the Soil and Field Research Section.

Trevor had joined a large vibrant weed research community, which was never to be as strong again. The organisation that brought together many of these disparate elements was the Weed and Pest Control Society. Back then the chemical companies also carried out and were happy to report on their research into new herbicides, new crops and new problem weeds.

Over the next 40 years Trevor’s career as a weed researcher developed, changing position from Technical Officer, to Research Associate and then Scientist, completing an MSc in Chemistry at Waikato University in 1995 and awarded his PhD in Soil Science at Massey in 2009.

Trevor presented his first paper at the Society’s conference at the Burma Motor Lodge in Johnsonville in 1977, a joint paper with Jennifer Hartley on control of musky storksbill in pasture.

Trevor soon became an indispensable part of the Weed and Pest Society, which became the NZ Plant Protection Society and ran or co-ordinated the annual conferences almost single-handedly as he still does. Additionally he has been a prolific researcher; a search on the NZPPS website yields a total of 235 results when you search for James, T.K. He became an influential member of the Society’s committee, starting in 1997 and culminating in his presidency in 2008-2010. He is still a committee member today. In about 2008 the Society joined the Council of Australasian Weed Societies (CAWS, formerly the Council of Australian Weed Societies) and in 2010, with Trevor in the lead, we ran the very first Australasian Weeds conference in Christchurch, three weeks after the first earthquake. Trevor subsequently became the President of CAWS for two years.

He is a much more recent addition to the NZ Biosecurity Institute but has been a major contributor to our Institute, generous of both his time and opinion.

His research has mostly dealt with weed control in primary production and more recently on conservation weeds, application and safe use of pesticides, pesticide fate and seed bank ecology.

His most recent research includes management of the up-and-coming pasture weed yellow bristle grass, identification of weed seeds and identification of plants introduced in contaminated coco peat and imported containers as a potential source of new weeds, and he became a multi-media star such was the interest in his discovery of the first glyphosate-resistant weeds in New Zealand.

Trevor is a huge support locally to the Waikato weed control community. If anyone wants a plant identified or has questions about control Trevor is available and is happy if we drop by his office. Trevor is a generous host to visitors wanting to look through his greenhouse where there is a collection of nasty plants and where some of his trial work is carried out.

Trevor has what I’m sure is the largest collection of weed photos in the country. There has been many an occasion when we have asked for a photo for various publications and Trevor has always generously provided one.

There have been many research projects Trevor has been involved in since I have known him. An example is the yellow bristle grass project where he has been a vital part of a community group’s efforts to learn more about this weed as well as promote awareness of it. Trevor produced the yellow bristle grass ‘ute guide’ which has been much in demand by Waikato farmers.

Most people will know Trevor as one of the authors of the three books Common Weeds; Grasses, Sedges and Rushes; and Seeds of New Zealand, being the principal author on the latter. His skill as a photographer really sells these books, nearly all the photos in these books were taken by Trevor. Trevor also did the lion’s share of organising the layout and printing of these books. These books are well used by the weed control community, gardeners and a multitude of others across the country, with the Common Weeds book being by far the best seller at Manaaki Whenua Press.

Trevor’s dedication to weed management, his selfless and tireless ability to pass on his knowledge to field staff make him an ideal recipient of the Peter Ingram Award.


The Peter Ingram Memorial Award

Peter Ingram was the pest plant coordinator at Environment Bay of Plenty. He had a passion for learning, shared his knowledge and discussed ideas and theories. He was especially encouraging of his team at Environment Bay of Plenty to take advantage of learning opportunities. Peter was a past president of the Institute of Noxious Plants Officers. The Peter Ingram Memorial Award is given to a member of the NZ Biosecurity Institute who has successfully undertaken or enabled others to achieve, relevant to pest plant education, control or management.



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