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Call for eradication of ant from Nelson

Nick Smith MP for Nelson National Environment Spokesperson

Saturday 10 March 2001

Call for eradication of ant from Nelson

Urgent action is needed by the Government to eradicate the argentine ant from the Port of Nelson, Nelson MP and National's Environment spokesperson Nick Smith said today.

Dr Smith was commenting on the discovery this week of the spread of the argentine ant to Nelson and the South Island.

"The argentine ant poses a huge risk to the Nelson Region, particularly the forest industry. This pest is amongst the world's 100 most invasive species and is the worst ant with the exception only of the fire ant.

"Nelson is projected to export more than $3 billion worth of timber products over the next decade and the presence of the ant poses a serious risk to this vital industry.

"We don't want a repeat of the fiasco over the varroa bee mite when delays in making a decision about eradication took so long that it became an impossibility. The successful eradication of the gypsy moth when National was in Government shows that with the funding and the commitment eradication can be achieved. The same sort of effort is required with the argentine ant.

Dr Smith said he wasn't just concerned about the risk to the commercial forest industry. "Nelson has three spectacular National Parks and this ant poses as much threat to these indigenous forests and the birdlife within them as to the commercial Pinus Radiata forests.

Dr Smith also called for urgent action by the Government on the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment's report on biosecurity 'New Zealand Under Siege'. "The Government has made no progress on any of the 15 recommendations about how to stop pests like the argentine ant spreading, despite the report being six months old.

"It is an indictment on the Government's commitment that the very agency that discovered the argentine ant in Nelson, Landcare Research, is being raided of millions of dollars by the Government for pet projects," Dr Smith said.

Ends

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