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Don't Buy Spiders!

MEDIA RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE USE

Don't buy spiders!

Forest and Bird is calling for immediate action following the latest find of a black widow spider in imported Californian table grapes.

Forest and Bird Conservation Manager, Eric Pyle, said "this is the fourth black widow spider found in table grapes from California this year. It is simply not good enough - government and consumer action is needed urgently."

The live female black widow spider was found in a Nelson supermarket. "A female spider can lay several hundred eggs - just one female with eggs could be enough for a population to establish in New Zealand".

Forest and Bird is calling on MAF to stop importing grapes from California until they can be proved safe. "Current standards are clearly inadequate" Mr Pyle said. "Trade should be stopped until such time as we can be assured that we are not importing live poisonous spiders in grapes".

"After the first two spiders were found this year, Associate Minister of Biosecurity Marian Hobbs said that trade would be suspended if a third spider was found. After the third spider was found, MAF said that the situation would be reviewed if a fourth was discovered." Mr Pyle said. "The government is letting the country down by failing to deal with this biosecurity risk".

Forest and Bird is calling on the public to boycott imported Californian grapes. "Californian grape imports clearly represent a risk for the introduction of pests including black widow spiders and red back jumping spiders. The government has not taken strong enough action, but New Zealanders can."

"Every New Zealander can make a difference - next time you reach for Californian table grapes at the supermarket, think of the spider that may be lurking in them and buy locally grown produce instead. Not only does this avoid international biosecurity risk, it reduces the environmental cost of transportation."

Forest and Bird awaits the government's action to ensure that this biosecurity mistake is not repeated again.

Ends

Contact: Karli Thomas, Biosecurity Awareness Officer, tel. 04 385 7374 Eric Pyle, Conservation Manager, tel. 04 385 7374; 025 227 8420


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