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Gum leaf skeletoniser plan misses the point

Gum leaf skeletoniser plan misses the point

The Agriculture Ministry's plan to deal with the gum leaf skeletoniser moth misses the key point, Green Agriculture Spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street MP said today.

"Pests like this should be stopped before they even reach the border," Mr Ewen-Street said.

"The widespread infestation of the gum leaf skeletoniser moth is an indictment on our biosecurity controls.

"We must move to 100 per cent inspection of incoming sea containers as quickly as possible. At present, only 24 per cent are inspected, which gives alien species a huge entry pathway," Mr Ewen-Street said.

"We also need to move to 100 per cent offshore inspection and decontamination of used cars, used tyres and used agricultural machinery."

The Ministry announced today it had decided that eradication of the gum leaf skeletoniser was not an option, due largely to the extent of the current infestation and the likely rate of spread of the pest. Instead it will focus on long-term management.

Mr Ewen-Street said the Ministry should change its mindset from trying to control or eradicate infestations such as the gum leaf skeletoniser, painted apple moth, varroa bee mite, southern saltmarsh mosquito, and focus instead on preventing their passage through the border in the first place.

"Prevention is definitely better than cure in biosecurity matters, in every case. There is too much at stake."

Mr Ewen-Street said he was pleased, however, to hear that the area of Auckland affected by the gum leaf skeletoniser would not be bombarded from above by the toxic chemical cocktail Foray 48B, as in the West Auckland painted apple moth case.

ENDS

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