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Forest And Bird: Mosquitoes: Enough Is Enough

November 14, 2001 - Wellington


Mosquitoes: enough is enough

Forest and Bird is demanding an immediate end to the importation of dirty used vehicles, after yet another disease transmitting mosquito was found in New Zealand.

Forest and Bird Biosecurity Awareness Officer, Karli Thomas said today "MAF cannot go on allowing dirty used vehicles to be imported to New Zealand. Last year they proposed offshore inspection of all used vehicles, but they have since backed down on that position."

"New Zealand should pursue a policy of dealing with as much biosecurity risk offshore as possible," Ms Thomas said. "According to one importer, inspecting vehicles before they are shipped to New Zealand costs only an extra $3 per vehicle."

When a risk pathway is identified MAF must take immediate steps to reduce that risk, Ms Thomas said. "MAF finally accepted - after four black widow spiders in three months - that the importation of grapes from California was too risky and put a stop to it. We are asking that they do the same to prevent the introduction of mosquitoes and other pests, by stopping the importation of dirty used vehicles."

"Last week Forest and Bird wrote to the Minister of Biosecurity expressing concern at the Used Vehicle import Health Standard, which was not developed in accordance with the Biosecurity Act or MAF's own policies on risk assessment," Ms Thomas said.

In developing the import health standard MAF only considered the risk of introducing the gypsy moth, a forest pest, to New Zealand. "MAF are required to consider all risks associated with importation - other pests that have been intercepted on used vehicles include ants, snakes, black widow spiders, mosquitoes and the tussock moth," Ms Thomas said.

Forest and Bird is asking the Minister of Biosecurity why an Import Health Standard for used vehicles has been approved despite the fact that it does not comply with the Biosecurity Act and MAF's own policies.

Ends email: k.thomas@wn.forest-bird.org.nz b.weeber@wn.forest-bird.org.nz


Other pests intercepted on used vehicles and machinery this year:

March 2001: Asian tiger mosquito at Auckland wharf on a shipment of used vehicles and machinery from Japan. Trapping programme at Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

April 2001: Used bus from Japan contaminated with soil and vegetation escaped through inspections altogether, and was found only when it broke down in the Lyttleton tunnel.

April 2001: Yellow fever mosquito found at Auckland wharf where containers and used vehicles are unloaded. Inspections and fumigation of the port area.

April 2001: A combine harvester from Britain covered in mud, grass, plant material and possible animal waste arrived at the Port of Auckland, and was inspected and banned from entering New Zealand until cleaned.

September 2001: Silage cutter from France contaminated with 150 kg of grass and other organic material arrived in Auckland, was shipped on to Lyttleton, loaded onto a truck and driven to Timaru before being cleaned.

October 2001: Asian tiger mosquito found at the Auckland wharf on a used truck from Japan, trapping undertaken in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Forest and Bird's letter to Jim Sutton of 9 November 2001:

Dear Jim Sutton,

Earlier this year Forest and Bird requested from MAF Biosecurity Authority all the documentation contributing to the Forest Biosecurity Chief Technical Officer's decision on an Import Health Standard for Used Cars.

Various documents, including the Draft Import Health Standard and summaries of submissions were received. The only risk assessment document received was "Used Cars, Vans and Utility Vehicles from Japan - An assessment of this pathway as a means by which gypsy moth may enter New Zealand".

With regard to the development of Import Health Standards, MAF operates under the Biosecurity Act 1993. MAF Biosecurity Authority has also developed a policy statement on how they will conduct risk analysis and apply them to the development of Import Health Standards. Both of these documents specifically require MAF to consider the potential effects on people, the economy and the environment of organisms that may be introduced as a consequence of importing risk goods (section 22 (5) and section 5.6 respectively).

The used vehicle risk assessment addresses only a single organism associated with the used vehicle risk pathway (Asian gypsy moth). Even a cursory look at media reports of pests that have been intercepted on used vehicles in recent years clearly shows that this is not the only risk organism that can enter via this pathway. Other risks associated with used vehicle imports include ants, snakes, black widow spiders, mosquitoes and the tussock moth.

Could you please send a copy of the full risk assessment that considers all of the risks associated with used vehicle imports. If this is not available please explain why this Import Health Standard has been approved despite the fact that it does not comply with the Biosecurity Act and MAF's own policies.

Contact: Karli Thomas, Tel: 04 385 7374, 04 385 3646 (home) Barry Weeber, Tel. 04 385 7374

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