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MAF response must be clear - not a tangled web

MAF response must be clear - not a tangled web

The discovery of yet another moth pest in Auckland challenges MAF to put into practice the lessons it claims to have learned form the disastrous painted apple moth incursion, Green Party Biosecurity Spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street MP said today.

The arrival of the fall webworm, a member of the tiger moth family, also gives the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry the chance to restore some credibility, Mr Ewen-Street said.

"Hopefully they won't stuff it up again, like they did with the painted apple moth. The webworm is clearly a nasty customer, and needs to be eradicated. We can't afford to have MAF underperforming for 2.5 years, as they did with the painted apple moth."

MAF should immediately begin trapping to determine the extent of the new pest, feeding tests to find out exactly what it prefers to eat, and research on pheromones (using all available skills and resources), Mr Ewen-Street said. There should also be public education advertisements in newspapers and billboards, restrictions on the movement of garden waste, and other measures put in place immediately.

"Let's see if MAF can do it without having to douse the people of Auckland with yet more toxic aerial spray."

Following the incursions of the painted apple moth, gum leaf skeletoniser and webworm over the past three years, and a menagerie of other creeping and crawling pests, the Government had to also immediately increase inspection of all sea containers, Mr Ewen-Street said.

"The arrival of the webworm is yet another signal that sea containers are an incursion pathway which must be closed or at least restricted as much as possible," he said.

"I accept it is difficult to have 100 per cent inspection of sea containers on the wharves, but MAF should have an inspection team at each of the container-unloading sites around Auckland, at the very least.

"The Green Party will be keeping a watching brief on how MAF handles this latest pest, as continued breaches of our biosecurity controls are unacceptable."

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