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National And MPI Need to up Their Biosecurity Game

Richard Prosser MP
Spokesperson for Biosecurity
16 AUGUST 2017

National And MPI Need to up Their Biosecurity Game

Given their recent poor record the Government and Ministry for Primary Industries need to up their game with another biosecurity threat looming, says New Zealand First.

“The tree fungus Rapid Ohia Death that has devastated forests in Hawaii has now been detected in Tahiti, and it is only a matter of time before it reaches New Zealand,” says Primary Industries Spokesperson Richard Prosser.

“ROD, or Ceratocystis fimbriata, affects trees in the Metrosideros genus, which in New Zealand includes rata and pohutukawa.

“Kiwifruit are also potentially at risk.

“There is a strain of the fungus already present in New Zealand which causes black rot in kumara, but so far hasn’t affected kiwifruit. However, another strain of the same disease has killed up to 50% of kiwifruit vines in some orchards in Brazil.

“This fungus can kill mature trees in a matter of days. There is currently no effective treatment, and it can be spread on clothing and particularly footwear.

“The Government and MPI need to have an action plan in place right now in the event of an incursion, but more than that, New Zealand needs to be front-footing this very real threat.

“We need to install disinfectant squelch mats on all air bridges and cruise ship gangplanks, particularly for flights and vessels coming from or passing through Hawaii, French Polynesia, and South America.

“After fruit fly, myrtle rust, lake snow, and 101 other things that have arrived in New Zealand, people have every right to be highly concerned about how seriously the government is treating biosecurity.

“New Zealand simply cannot afford another failure of MPI’s border biosecurity net. The minister needs to be all over this before it’s too late,” says Mr Prosser.


ENDS

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