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If in doubt, keep it out!

If in doubt, keep it out!

Forest and Bird is welcoming the release of the draft Biosecurity Strategy as a critical step towards the protection of New Zealand's environment from pests and diseases.

Forest and Bird's Biosecurity Awareness Officer, Geoff Keey, said, "New Zealand's natural environment is being attacked by a deluge of pests. Some like rats, stoats and ferrets came a long time ago. Others like painted apple moth are new arrivals."

"Nature is paying a heavy price for this pest invasion: whio (blue duck) and mohua (yellowhead) and kiwi are declining and will go extinct unless we protect them from predators," he said.

"The Biosecurity Strategy must ensure that no more pests become established," he said.

"If New Zealanders want to continue seeing native birds in the forests, or to have native forest at all, then we will all need to be committed to protecting our native plants and animals from pests and diseases," he said.

"New Zealand has made good progress in some areas. The Department of Conservation's island pest eradications are world class. MAF Biosecurity's ant surveillance programme has prevented a potential ecological catastrophe with the early discovery of crazy ants. However, only one in four shipping containers are inspected and that poses a major threat to New Zealand's environment," he said.

"The controversy around painted apple moth and the recent discovery that red backed spiders had sneaked past the border shows how important it is to do border inspections properly the first time. Aucklanders won't want to be sprayed from a DC3 every couple of years because yet another pest sneaked past the border," he said.

"It is vital that the government does not buckle to people who would weaken New Zealand's biosecurity system to suit their special interests. Many pests have their promoters and the government should be careful not to get seduced by their arguments. Some trade interests may also put forward seductive arguments against taking a strong stance to protect New Zealand from pests and diseases," he said.

"Biosecurity is probably the most heavily reviewed area of government work. Reviews to date have made over 150 recommendations. Now its time to turn those recommendations into action."

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