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Biosecurity issues important for native species

27 September 2001 Media Statement
Biosecurity issues important for native species

Conservation Minister Sandra Lee is inviting people to help guide government policy and priorities on biosecurity and its role in protecting native species through participation in the development of a New Zealand Biosecurity Strategy.

Ms Lee was commenting on today's release by the Biosecurity Council of an issues paper on the development a biosecurity strategy.

The release coincides with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s launch of a biosecurity public awareness campaign.

Ms Lee said effective biosecurity by preventing the introduction and spread of alien pest species was crucial to halting the decline of New Zealand’s unique native species and ecosystems.

“In the past, biosecurity in New Zealand has largely focussed on the protection of land based primary production systems.

"However, the issues paper on biosecurity reflects the broadening of focus that has occurred in recent years to consider impacts on native species and habitats, the marine environment, and freshwater ecosystems,“ Ms Lee said.

“New Zealand's native biodiversity is under siege by an army of pests and weeds. Unless we have effective biosecurity, this army will get steadily bigger every year with the unwanted introduction of new pests and weeds.

“This Government and the wider community has invested heavily in new and improved initiatives to ensure the survival of precious native species.

"Biosecurity breaches can undermine this good work.

“The recent incursion of red fire ant in Auckland shows how vulnerable we are.

"This ant is a major pest of agriculture, horticulture, and the environment and also affects human health in the USA, and Brisbane, Australia where it has only recently established.

"If it established here it is capable of inflicting substantial damage.”

Ms Lee said she welcomed the issues paper’s recognition of the importance of biosecurity for the survival of native species.

She congratulated the Biosecurity Council for its work in preparing the discussion paper.

Submissions will be received on the paper (accessible at http://www.biostrategy.govt.nz ) until the end of the year.

ENDS


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