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Wharfies swing into action in Bluff bug alert

Wharfies swing into action in Bluff bug alert

Bluff wharfies showed last night that New Zealand workers are the front line of defence against biological threats.

Maritime Union of New Zealand Bluff Branch Secretary Ray Fife says an exotic spider-like insect was discovered onboard the cargo ship Tasman Endeavour at Tiwai Point smelter at around 4pm Wednesday 6 August.

Maritime Union members working onboard the ship trapped one of the insects and sighted six more, including a nest with eggs.

The Union stopped work on the ship and immediately notified MAF who attended the ship and sprayed the areas.

Mr Fife says wharfies were insistent that further spraying be carried out before work resumed.

He praised the responsible attitude of smelter management who also requested further spraying in order to ensure health and safety.

A MAF contractor carried out overnight spraying of the ship and work recommenced on the ship at 7am today.

The incident follows the discovery of a mosquito at Auckland airport yesterday and warnings by scientists that the threat by exotic bugs has been underestimated.

Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says the incident shows the vulnerability of New Zealand to biosecurity threats.

"This ship had already visited ports in Auckland, Wellington and New Plymouth before these bugs were spotted by our members."

Mr Hanson says the use of foreign owned "Flag of Convenience" ships for domestic coastal shipping was a threat to New Zealand biosecurity, New Zealand jobs and New Zealand industry.

"The Maritime Union is campaigning for New Zealand ships doing New Zealand coastal shipping, and this incident is just another glaring example of how Third World standards are creeping into New Zealand industry."

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