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Government must act now to protect our native paua

29 November 2007

Government must act now to protect our native paua

The threat of a major bio security breach of our borders and coastal waters cannot be ignored says Keith Ingram President of the New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council.

The NZRFC is urging the Government to act swiftly to alert the public to simple but important measures to prevent a serious biosecurity breach, Mr Ingram said. People need to be informed and quickly if we are to keep our paua safe.

"A virus of unknown origin is sweeping the Victorian Coast of Australia. The Abalone Virus Ganglioneuritis (AVG) is wiping out abalone in the Australian state of Victoria. The Australians expect it will be generations before the abalone stocks on infected reefs begin to re-build. MAFBNZ scientists say that while it's not certain the herpes-like virus would affect New Zealand päua, there's every indication it would, given päua is a member of the abalone family. If it established here, AVG would have a severe impact on commercial, customary and recreational fishing as well as tourism and export industries associated with paua."

This is serious, and recreational fishers call on the Government to take action now to close our borders to the arrival of untreated ballast water in ships arriving from Australia. All wet dive gear, swimsuits and surf equipment should be seized at our border control points and treated and dried before entering the country, he said. Paua are of significant importance to the public, both amateur and customary fishers as well as supporting a valued commercial fishery.

Mr Ingram said that New Zealand has relied on its isolation as a means of protection, but we can no longer as the recent history of new marine invaders arriving will attest.

To ignore the current risk and threat or to do too little too late is tantamount to professional incompetence, the Government must act now to protect our borders from this AGV threat and the threat of future marine invaders reaching our shores, says Keith Ingram. We are urging fast action with an appropriate public awareness in place before folks head off for their holidays, he said.

"Kiwis will want to do the right thing - but the Government needs to ensure that they know what the right thing is."

ENDS


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