Putting the train into training

Protect Editor Chris Macann offers his summary of NETS2013.

More than 200 delegates put the train into training when they travelled mostly by the TranzAlpine train to NETS2013 at Shantytown near Greymouth. The train trip provided opportunities to see at first-hand the biosecurity challenges that face Canterbury and the West Coast.

Outgoing Institute President Pedro Jensen and National Pet Control Agencies Chairman Bill Martyn set the scene in their welcomes.

Take a fresh look

Pedro encouraged all present to make the most of their time together.

Take a fresh look at biosecurity and continually challenge yourselves to find new and innovative solutions to those issues we collectively face.

Bill celebrated the second combined conference for both organisations.

“The positive feedback we received from the first one has proven to us that this is an effective way to deliver our technology transfer events,” he said.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae Hapū welcomed delegates and explained some of the taonga of the region. Kaumātua were pleased conference-goers were dedicated to protecting the natural values of the Coast.

The world is watching

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy elaborated on two announcements he made earlier in the week emphasising that the world was watching the country’s new biosecurity measures. In particular he noted the pre-screening at departure points whereby passengers and their baggage can be assessed while in-flight, in preparation for their arrival off Trans-Tasman flights.

Possible tensions

Garry Ottman , Executive Director of the Game and Forest Foundation explained the intentions of the soon-to-be formed New Zealand Game Animal Council and acknowledged there would inevitably be points where there could be tensions with the biosecurity community.

He said the NZAGC is projected to be a national game animal management organisation which should recognise wild game as a hunting resource, and will aim primarily at better management of hunting.

Darcy Oishi, Acting General Manager for the Plant Pest Control branch of Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture explained the challenges of managing biosecurity on an isolated group of islands, while having to remain within a larger federal governance structure.

Why not a predator-free NZ?

Andrea Byrom from Landcare Research at Lincoln concluded the conference with a stimulating discussion on the aspirational goal of a predator-free New Zealand. She explained how this could become a reality if there was a will and a suitable budget. While acknowledging essentially it remains an aspirational goal, it serves as a constructive focus for the country’s biosecurity practitioners.

Peppering the plenary addresses was plenty on plants, vertebrates, marine menaces and insect invaders and diseases.

Well Deseved

A career of dedication to the Institute and its predecessor organisations on the pest animal side earned Ray Clarey a Life Membership. Ray is one of six participants in the Institute’s first round of oral history interviews aimed at preserving the history of the Institute.

Effort in engaging the community in pest control initiatives won Northland Regional Council this year’s Peter Nelson Memorial Award for Achievement in Vertebrate Pest Management.

Trevor James’s dedication to weed management, and sharing of his knowledge won him The Peter Ingram Memorial Award for enabling others to achieve the field of pest plant control.

David Byers won the Stook, awarded for the best presentation. David’s presentation was on the Carp-N Neutral Project involving creative control methods of Koi carp, whose numbers have exploded in the Lower Waikato River Basin. The Stook is a cross between a story and a book. The winner is decided by a panel of members.

Young gun Adam Khan won the shooting trophy, apparently only dropping three shots which may be a record.

In the informal editor’s choice award category David Galloway won the award for Best Dressed Man closely followed by several other worthy candidates who too wore ties.

Darion Embling won the Editor’s Choice Award for Most Valuable Contributor to Protect Magazine

The unofficial award for Best Presentation Title went to Garrick McCarthy for “Pigs in Paradise”.

The prize for most effort to get to Shantytown might well go to the Primary Ministries Minister Nathan Guy, who’s flight was cancelled and who flew to Nelson then drove for four hours.

Road safety for Penguins

Field trips visited sites of the West Coast Ragwort Control Trust, the Punakaiki Coast Restoration Project, the Petrel Special Protected Area, the Grey Valley Kiwi Creche and the Blaketown and Cobden Lagoons. Visitors to the Blue Penguin Trust site saw how the lack of road sense has taken a high toll on the birds. Visitors to the Brunner Mine site were treated with an excellent interpretation of the Brunner Mine Memorial and historic site by local bus driver Matt Lysaght. “Sombre yet enlightening” summarises the feelings of some of the delegates.

Like no other - same time next year

Steve Ellis invited all to Taranaki at the same time next year promising it will be, as the theme suggests, like no other. This year’s conference organiser Carolyn Lewis has accepted the challenge of organising next year’s event in conjunction with the Lower North Island branch.

New President

The Annual General Meeting farewelled President Pedro Jensen after two years, and welcomed new President, Auckland-based biosecurity officer Rebecca Kemp. Waikato’s Darion Embling was elected to the vacant office of Vice-president (one of two).

Among other business the AGM agreed to survey members on what they wish to get from their Institute membership. As well the meeting agreed to develop a communication strategy to best promote the Institute and biosecurity in general.

The conference handbook is on the website with summaries of all the papers presented.

Also on the website are more photographs from the conference.