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Mayor Chris Fletcher Speaks On Biosecurity

New Zealand Biosecurity Institute Seminar
“Biosecurity – a wider perspective”
Welcome message by Mayor of Auckland City, Chris Fletcher
Waipuna Conference Centre, Auckland City
9.45am Wednesday July 19, 2000

This seminar is a valuable opportunity to share the practical experience and specialised knowledge of so many of the people who are working in the biosecurity area in New Zealand.

So where is the Mayor of Auckland City’s role in biosecurity? ? – you may be asking.

Looking to safeguard our city, that’s where.

The Auckland region is more at risk of an infestation or outbreak, than any other in the country.

This is because our region is the arrival point for a larger quantity of cargo and more passengers than any other in the country.

Thus the risk is higher, no matter how effective the monitoring or patrolling.

Auckland International Airport handles around 186,000 tonnes of cargo imports, and almost 8 million passenger arrivals each year.

Our ports handled about 65 percent of the country’s total cargo imported last year.

And 80 percent of 140,000 used vehicles were imported via the Auckland ports.

These imported vehicles have the potential to be a major source of infestation and the debate continues over merits of at-source and upon-arrival decontamination.

Earlier this year I visited a decontamination facility in Japan and saw for myself an Asian Gypsy Moth – a dead one fortunately – inside a car that had been decontaminated.

Here in Auckland we have learned first hand about the price you pay to control an infestation. The cost is measured in far more than dollars.

There was the successful intensive aerial spraying for the White Tussock Moth.

Over more than a decade Dutch Elm Disease has whittled the numbers of these beautiful trees alarmingly; the loss of so many mature trees is particularly noticeable in our parks.

Thanks to good work by MAF, FRI and our own parks staff Dutch Elm Disease now appears to be under control – one of the few such success stories in the world.

All the same I am concerned to hear that because the monitoring results have appeared to be so good, there’s talk about ceasing the government funding for the pheromone traps.

Of course I am delighted to hear that the programme hasn’t shown up any fungus-carrying, disease-spreading insects for a year.

However I am not convinced that this means we are clear of Dutch Elm Disease. Isn’t it a little premature to stop the good monitoring work that has been going on? I hope this programme will continue to be adequately funded for a few more years yet.

Currently our apiarists and horticulturists are concerned about a “silent spring” because of the honey bee mite.

The Asian Gypsy Moth is waiting in the wings – and there are so many more threats to our environment that I hardly need to list to today’s specialised audience.

As Mayor of Auckland City, I am unashamedly pro-Auckland. So it follows that I am also especially protective of our whole region.

The Auckland environment is by no means solely urban – we have many thousands of hectares of parks and reserve land.

The Hauraki Gulf and its 60 islands is a unique area, precious to Auckland. Our coastal and marine environment contains our largest pool of biodiversity.

I believe all local authority politicians have a role here, in putting their collective support to strengthen all such measures – protection, prevention, education, monitoring.

We need foresight to deal with an issue such as biosecurity, because hindsight just won’t be an option.

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