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Exotic Spider Risk Assessment Outcomes Due Sept.

Monday 2 September 2002

Announcement on outcomes of assessment for risks posed by exotic spiders entering New Zealand on table grapes due out this month

An inter-agency project team - consisting of officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), Ministry of Health and Department of Conservation - has almost finalised a review of public submissions on the issue of the risks posed by exotic spiders entering New Zealand on table grapes.

Ministry of Health chief technical officer Sally Gilbert said that apart from permanently suspending trade, there was no way to guarantee spiders would not enter New Zealand via table grapes.

"The Ministry of Health has recommended measures to further reduce the risk of spiders entering New Zealand on grapes, but these measures will not stop all spiders," Ms Gilbert said. To date, the Ministry of Health was not aware of any incidents where people have been bitten by black widow spiders in New Zealand.

Project leader Christine Reed, of MAF's Biosecurity Coordination Group, said today that 18 submissions had been received by the closing date of 24 July. "We expect to complete the analysis and feedback on submissions this week. At the same time a revised Import Health Standard has been drafted and we expect that may also be finalised this week," said Ms Reed.

"However, no final documents will be issued or released until all the details have been agreed to by all parties as required and that may still take some days. That includes the Import Health Standard, as well as a revised Pest Risk Assessment and a final Health Impact Assessment. Any further announcement would be premature".

Trade in table grapes from California was suspended in November 2001 after four live black widow spiders and a number of other exotic spiders were found at the border over a three month period. An Import Health Standard must be re-issued before trade can recommence.

For more information contact: Christine Reed

MAF Biosecurity Coordination Group

Tel (04) 470 2576, (021) 165 2977


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