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Do your job, MAF, and do it quickly

12 May 2004

Do your job, MAF, and do it quickly

Green MP Ian Ewen-Street has called for urgent action by MAF to eradicate yet another outbreak of the southern saltmarsh mosquito, which can carry the debilitating Ross River Virus.

MAF announced today that it had discovered specimens of the mosquito at all stages of its lifecycle near Blenheim, after duck hunters had complained of aggressive mosquitoes recently, but would conduct further investigations before formulating a response plan.

"It is absolutely crucial that MAF swing into action immediately to eradicate the latest outbreak of the nasty southern saltmarsh mosquito," said Mr Ewen-Street, the Green Party's Biosecurity spokesperson.

"MAF needs to deploy traps to define the spread of the mosquito and enable it to know whether any eradication programme is succeeding.

"A comprehensive public information campaign must be initiated, while efforts should begin straight away to develop a biological control to act as a cornerstone for future detection and trapping programmes," he said.

"It may sound like I'm telling MAF how to suck an egg, but the truth is that they've badly misjudged other Biosecurity incursions that have cost millions of dollars to fix and have harmed the health of many residents.

"MAF's handling of the Painted Apple Moth in West Auckland, for example, should instil no confidence in its ability to deal with problems in a timely fashion.

"MAF dithered for 2½ years from finding the moth to when they initiated their action plan. By then, the infestation had taken hold and MAF's response was to douse West Aucklanders with aerial spray that was recently confirmed to be causing major health problems for residents.

"I live in hope that MAF have learnt from its mistakes and the southern saltmarsh mosquito does not continue to establish itself elsewhere in Blenheim and beyond," he said.


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