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Summit ponders progress on biosecurity strategy

Summit ponders progress on biosecurity strategy

Some 200 biosecurity experts have gathered in Auckland to discuss progress on a far-reaching strategy to better protect New Zealand from imported pests and diseases.

The government adopted a new Biosecurity Strategy in August 2003 as the basis for improvements to New Zealand's biosecurity system over the next five years.

As part of that strategy, it made MAF the lead agency with overall accountability for the performance of New Zealand’s biosecurity.

MAF Director General Murray Sherwin said today that MAF had made “significant progress” on the strategy’s first ten steps.

“I can report that we have built new structures within MAF to help us carry out our new responsibilities and to enable better cooperation and coordination between all agencies that undertake biosecurity work.

“In designing the new structures, we have paid particular attention to the expectation that the biosecurity system must encompass the full range of economic, social and environmental values. And we have taken to heart the view that MAF needed to provide more leadership, strategy and direction.”

Mr Sherwin said the summit would focus on the themes of pest management and marine biosecurity.

As part of its expanded mandate, MAF has been assigned responsibilities for marine biosecurity that were previously vested in the Ministry of Fisheries. Also, accountability for six national pest management programmes will pass to MAF from the Department of Conservation in July, 2004.

“These are areas where MAF is building new capability and where the government is providing new funding. We are determined to ensure that we get the best value from this new funding,” Mr Sherwin said.

“The summit was intended to encourage informed debate and to engage participants from the various sectors within the biosecurity community,” he said.

It will be held at the Waipuna Conference Centre, Panmure, Auckland from November 18-19.

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