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Encouraging Signs in Report on Aerial 1080

Media release, for release 18 November

Encouraging Signs in Report on Aerial 1080

The Environmental Risk Management Authority says real progress has been made in a number of areas surrounding the aerial application of 1080, and that the rules are largely being followed by operators.

In its latest annual report on aerial 1080 operations, the Authority says it intended all aspects of the stricter management regime introduced in 2007 to be subject to public scrutiny.

“We believe this scrutiny shows the regime is generally working as intended to realise the benefits of using 1080 for pest control, while minimising the risks,” the report says.

The report covers aerial use of 1080 in the 2009 calendar year. There were 64 aerial operations in 2009, covering approximately 510,000 hectares. This is similar to 2008, when there were 74 operations over 600,000 hectares.

Most of the operations (51) were conducted with no significant incidents or complaints being reported to ERMA New Zealand.

Significant incidents and complaints reported to ERMA New Zealand were nearly half the previous year’s number, with 17 in the 2009 year, compared with 30 in 2008. They related to 13 operations. All were investigated and six were found to be breaches of the controls. Three of the breaches were attributed to operator practices and three to actions by members of the public.

Twelve new research projects looking at alternatives to 1080 were started in 2009, and work continued on 23 others. There were also 10 new projects seeking improvements in the way 1080 is applied aerially, and six new research projects investigating related fields such as the effects on native bird populations. In all, the report includes information on 66 projects.

Where an aerial 1080 operation includes a drinking water supply catchment, the local Public Health Unit usually requires water monitoring before reconnection of water intakes.

Water monitoring tests were carried out after 25 of the aerial operations undertaken in 2009, with 113 tests reported. Monitoring in drinking water catchments detected 1080 in four tests (on four different operations), with results between 0.1 and 0.3 micrograms per litre, well below the Tolerable Exposure Limit of 3.5 micrograms per litre. These areas were retested before reconnection of the water intakes, and no 1080 was detected at any of the sites.

The Authority believes good communication is important to reduce risks in operations. The annual report says there are encouraging signs that the Communications Guideline for Aerial 1080 Operations, published in March 2009, is having a positive effect in ensuring better communication in some areas.

This is seen in the quality of the applications for 1080 operations received by Public Health Units, which contain evidence of prior consultation with affected parties. In addition, the rate of reported consultation with Māori stakeholders improved markedly. They were consulted on 84 percent of aerial operations in 2009, compared with the 55 percent reported in 2008.

Nevertheless, concerns about poor communication were forwarded to ERMA New Zealand from operators and members of the public for four aerial operations in 2009, compared with 12 in 2008. The Authority considers that, while this is better, there is still a need for improvement by the agencies and operators involved.

The report is available on the ERMA New Zealand website at


1080 Aerial Operations: Incidents and Complaints 2009

Summary of 1080 Research Projects 2009

New project Project update
Alternatives to the use of 1080 (12 new, 23 updates)
Alternative toxins
Extending the use of toxins already in use in New Zealand 4 10
Seeking registration in New Zealand for toxins currently used overseas 4 4
Consideration of new toxins 3 4
Biocontrol 1 3
Trapping 1
Vaccines 1
Improvements in the use of 1080 (10 new, 10 updates)
Reducing amounts of 1080 used 4 2
Effects on non-target species of the use of deer repellent 1 1
Effects of aerially applied 1080 on bird populations 5 2
Effects of possum control on trees 4
Local elimination 1
Other research (6 new, 5 updates)
Animal welfare 2 1
Small mammal control 1
1080 related social research 2
Modelling concentrations of 1080 in water following aerial application 2
Effects on rongoa Maori 1 2

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