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Ant’s spread to Taranaki shows biosecurity gap

Ant’s spread to Taranaki highlights biosecurity gap

The discovery that the Argentine Ant has now travelled as far as Taranaki is a clear signal New Zealand’s biosecurity border control has big gaps that need closing, says National Biosecurity spokesman Shane Ardern.

The Argentine Ant was discovered in 1990 in Auckland. Since then it has spread to Northland, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Hawkes Bay, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch – and now Taranaki.

“I have serious concerns with the potential economic, social and environmental consequences of allowing this pest to get established unchecked.

“When first discovered, eradication was not attempted and it was not until 2001 that even an investigation was undertaken.

“Clearly, with the discovery now of the ant in Waitara, they are spreading throughout the country rapidly and containment is not working.

“Our borders are vulnerable to new pests and more must be done to check containers and particularly imported vehicles. The new Minister of Biosecurity has scoffed at eradication being the first option when new species are discovered despite clear evidence that containment doesn’t work.

“If our control at the borders is not 100 per cent foolproof, then we must have quick and decisive action when a species is discovered.

“In the past few weeks, Biosecurity NZ has announced several threats to our environment – Didymo, Seasquirt, and Huntsman spiders.

“There are numerous others that are just as dangerous. New Zealand cannot afford to let this continue.”

Ends

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