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Myrtle Rust: Plant Movement Must Stop

Press Release: for immediate release Tuesday 19 June 2017

Plant Movement Must Stop

The Tree Council is calling for the Ministry for Primary Industries to use its powers under the Biosecurity Act and implement a temporary ban on all plant movement across New Zealand to prevent the spread of Myrtle Rust.

“In order to contain the disease it is vital for the current outbreaks in Kerikeri, Taranaki, Te Kuiti and now Te Puke to be contained and all infected plants to be identified and destroyed” said The Tree Council’s Chair Sean Freeman.

“While Myrtle Rust may spread slowly via wind dispersal of spores there will be far more rapid spread via plant movement, especially infected plants, and on people’s equipment, clothes and skin. During the current planting season the risk is extremely high that unidentified infections will be spread this way and the resulting multiplying spread and outbreaks will be extremely difficult to deal with.”

“We are urging MPI to take emergency action now to contain the spread so the field operations teams have a chance to deal effectively with the current outbreaks. We must act immediately or widespread infection will be too difficult to treat and the whole of New Zealand risks being infected.”

The incidence of Myrtle Rust in Australia has shown that it spreads rapidly and affects many species (up to 300 in Australia) but that early containment, identification and destruction of infected plants can stop the spread.

ENDS


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