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Action needed on UK exporter of illegal moth eggs


Action needed on UK exporter of illegal moth eggs.

Forest and Bird is calling on the government to publicise the name, and prevent a United Kingdom company from exporting to New Zealand, after the exporter mailed illegal live moth eggs to New Zealand.

The 29-year-old Auckland moth and butterfly enthusiast who received the eggs has been convicted of breaching New Zealand's biosecurity laws.

According to a summary of evidence tabled in the Auckland District Court, the presently un-named commercial UK supplier sent the moth and butterfly eggs to New Zealand, undeclared, in a plain white envelope and without making an application to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry for permission.

The introduction of new species into New Zealand also requires the approval of the Environmental Risk Management Agency (ERMA) under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO Act).

"It is astonishing that a commercial supplier could send moth eggs to New Zealand without disclosing them to Customs. The company's behaviour appears highly irresponsible and has put New Zealand's environment and economy at risk," said Forest and Bird Biosecurity Awareness Officer Geoff Keey.

"The government is spending over $100M to protect New Zealand's environment by eradicating painted apple moth. The last thing New Zealand needs is more environmentally damaging moths coming into New Zealand," Geoff Keey said.

"There should be no second chance for playing fast and loose with New Zealand's biosecurity system. Too much is at stake", Geoff Keey said.

Notes:
1. The species sent to New Zealand were: scarlet windowed moth, giant or royal silkworm, citrus swallowtail butterflies and pale tussock moth.

2. Key points from the MAF impact report:

· All imports of animals including butterflies, moths, caterpillars, larvae and eggs are strictly controlled and must be cleared by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

· The sending of live insects at any stage of their life cycle, including butterfly and moth eggs, into New Zealand also presents a significant risk to the country's native flora and fauna.

· Scarlet Windowed Moth has a wide host range including plants of economic importance in New Zealand, including grape apple pear and plum.

· Specimens of Giant or Royal silkworms were found feeding on Titoki, a native species. These moths usually eat a wide range of food and 'could potentially feed on a wide range of native hosts posing a risk to New Zealand flora'

· Citrus swallowtail butterflies present a potential risk to two native genera. Phebalium and Melicope as well as citrus fruit.

· Pale tussock moth is considered a forest pest in Europe and is known to have mass outbreaks. It is a temperate species and could likely establish across a wide area given the presence of suitable host plants. The fact that native beech is also palatable has serious implications for southern beech forests if this species became established.

3. The pale tussock moth is related to the painted apple moth and the white spotted tussock moth. The painted apple moth eats a wide range of native trees and is costing over $100M to eradicate. Unlike the painted apple moth, female pale tussock moths can fly and so they have a far greater dispersal rate.


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