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Management of bee pest to transfer

28 June 2005

Management of bee pest to transfer to Varroa Agency Inc.

From 1 July 2005, responsibility for keeping the varroa bee mite out of the South Island will transfer from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) to the Varroa Agency Incorporated (VAI), a management agency made up of South Island Councils and beekeeping organisations.

Varroa was first detected in Auckland in April 2000, and has now spread throughout the North Island. To date, movement controls on bees and bee products have kept the bee-killing mite out of the South Island. As part of the latest change, revised controls on transport of some materials to the South Island will be implemented.

Biosecurity New Zealand Senior Policy Analyst Paul Bolger says the handover means MAF’s existing Controlled Area Notice will be withdrawn on 30 June 2005, which will remove all internal movement controls on varroa in the North Island.

“A replacement notice issued by the VAI will take effect immediately. Like previous notices, the new Controlled Area Notice will place controls on moving risk goods to the South Island and Stewart Island. The range of restricted goods will be extended from varroa, bees, bulk bee products, beekeeping vehicles and used beekeeping equipment to also include bulk wine grapes, unprocessed logs, and buildings,” Paul Bolger says. Restricted goods can not be moved without a permit.

The handover of varroa management to the VAI follows similar existing National Pest Management Strategies for bovine tuberculosis and American foulbrood disease of bees. These strategies give industry and local government bodies control over disease management. The Varroa Strategy aims to keep the South Island varroa free through movement controls, education and surveillance.

“The move to hand varroa management to the VAI follows completion of a National Pest Management Strategy for varroa in February 2005. This was the result of four years of work by MAF, regional councils and industry groups such as bee keepers, fruit growers, and pastoral and arable farmers. The VAI is the body responsible for managing the strategy,

“The surveillance programme is designed to detect varroa as soon as possible in the South Island while there is still potential for it to be eradicated. Any eradication attempt would be managed by MAF,” Paul Bolger says.

The $720,000 annual cost of the strategy will be funded by South Island councils and the beekeeping industry.

Further information is available online at www.biosecurity.govt.nz/varroa.

ENDS

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