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Biosecurity Package Approved

The Government has approved a $2.75 million package of initiatives to enhance biosecurity, the Minister for Biosecurity, Marian Hobbs, announced today. The package includes a $1.25 million public awareness programme.

The money for today's initiatives comes from the $15 million green contingency fund announced in the Budget.

The Government also approved terms of reference for the development of a comprehensive Biosecurity Strategy over the next two years.

"We are widely acknowledged as a world leader in biosecurity," the Minister said, "but recent high profile incursions indicate our biosecurity systems are under pressure. I am concerned that the level of protection is lagging behind the growth in trade and travel risks. "

The money will be used to:
 Conduct a comprehensive import risk analysis on imported sea containers;
 Investigate new methods of detecting internal and external contamination on imported sea containers;
 Investigate new methods of decontaminating imported sea containers;
 Investigate new methods for enhancing plant pest risk management;
 Undertake a full strategic review of New Zealand's biosecurity surveillance and implement four high priority new surveillance programmes covering scoliid wasps (a potential parasite of native scarabs and other beetles), Argentine ants, wood boring insects and nominated diseases of native widlife;
 Implement a comprehensive biosecurity awareness programme, targeted at travellers, importers, primary industries and the general public.

Marian Hobbs said the improved border awareness programme will include developing multi-lingual biosecurity information, training people working with cargo and sea containers on biosecurity issues and responses to threats, enhancing liaison with the public, targeting key groups with specific awareness programmes and improving biosecurity signage, amnesty bins and displays to encourage passengers to declare risk goods.

While these initiatives are being introduced the Government will develop a comprehensive Biosecurity Strategy for New Zealand to be completed and ready for implementation by December 2002.
"The purpose of the strategy is to obtain agreement on goals, objectives and measurable targets for New Zealand's biosecurity programmes," Marian Hobbs said. "It will be developed with a focus on the future and broad issues affecting biosecurity and should provide direction and guidance to all involved as well as raising awareness with stakeholders and the general public."

Among the outcomes will be an agreed policy framework for biosecurity decision-making and agreement on the appropriate level of protection against biosecurity risks.

Ends

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