New agreement to protect fresh tomato industry

This is the second of two announcements from Biosecurity New Zealand which slipped past our notice in the run-up to Christmas.

Biosecurity New Zealand and Tomatoes New Zealand have reached an agreement on the pathway forward to better prepare for future biosecurity responses.

Both parties signed a Sector Readiness Operational Agreement on 21 December.

“The agreement demonstrates both organisations’ commitment to strengthen readiness for incursions of specific pests and pathogens,” says Andrew Spelman, Biosecurity New Zealand’s acting director, biosecurity readiness and response services.

“This agreement solidifies the organisations’ existing GIA (Government Industry Agreement) partnership that has developed over the past few years.”

Under the agreement, Biosecurity New Zealand and TomatoesNZ will jointly agree and fund readiness activities to improve preparedness for incursions of pests and pathogens that are considered a major concern to the fresh tomato industry.

Biosecurity New Zealand and TomatoesNZ joined the GIA in 2014 and 2016 respectively.

“We’re all responsible for protecting Aotearoa from pests and pathogens, and this agreement under the GIA aligns with the wider Ko Tātou This Is Us Biosecurity 2025 programme to improve New Zealand’s biosecurity system,” says Mr Spelman.

Chair of TomatoesNZ Barry O’Neil says this is an important development in the protection of the fresh tomato industry from biosecurity threats.

Our work on readiness will be focused on detecting pests and pathogens rapidly so we will have a high chance of eradication.”

The agreement will initially focus on preparing for incursions of tomato leafminer (Tuta absoluta) and the tomato strain of pepino mosaic virus. These have been identified as high priority by TomatoesNZ and Biosecurity New Zealand. More pests and pathogens will be added over time. Tomato leafminer and pepino mosaic virus are not currently present in New Zealand.

Source: Biosecurity New Zealand

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Special traps set in Tauranga as part of brown marmorated stink bug surveillance

Two items of news from Biosecurity New Zealand slipped our notice in the run-up to Christmas.

One press statement advised that the agency is laying special traps designed specifically to lure brown marmorated stink bugs (BMSB), in an area in Mount Maunganui, following the detection of a lone male bug. This is a precautionary step following this detection.

The single live male BMSB was found on a side table, just inside the main entrance of a house in Mount Maunganui on 15 December. It’s not known where the stink bug came from and inquiries are continuing to try to determine a pathway. The investigation to date has found no evidence of an established BMSB population.

“We are well prepared for this type of detection and we’ve been working closely with industry on prevention activities and education for some years,” says Biosecurity New Zealand spokesperson Dr Catherine Duthie.

We will keep investigating and step up surveillance in the area to help us determine whether this BMSB is a lone hitchhiker, or whether there are more in the area.”

Biosecurity New Zealand has some of the most up-to-date detection technology currently available, including the traps we use, along with the lures and our highly effective detector dogs.

Around a dozen traps will be laid, with special lures around the area where the stink bug was detected, and near transitional facilities. A transitional facility is a place where imported items are taken to be checked before clearance for delivery to New Zealand buyers.

The traps will be checked every couple of days for the first two weeks, then every fortnight.

The special detector dog with a nose trained specifically for BMSB will also be regularly brought in to check over the area.

“The potential impact of this pest on New Zealand’s horticulture industry is serious, so we want to make absolutely certain this is the only one.” says Dr Duthie.

Biosecurity New Zealand and industry have been running education campaigns in New Zealand asking people to look out for BMSB to enable early detection.

“It is due to this publicity that a member of the public reported this pest to us, and we thank them for doing so,”
Dr Duthie said.

Alerts from the public are an important part of the system, allowing us to act quickly to eliminate any biosecurity threats. This find is a timely reminder that New Zealand’s biosecurity system relies on more than just protections at the border.”

BMSB is a shield-shaped insect about the size of a ten cent piece with distinctive black and white banding on the abdomen and the antennae. People who think they have detected a suspect BMSB are advised to catch it; photograph it; report it – call the Biosecurity New Zealand hotline on 0800 80 99 66.

Source:  Biosecurity New Zealand

Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs found in Oamaru – expert reaction

The Science Media Centre today has reacted to media reports of  26 live Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs were discovered in a box of imported shoes in Oamaru.

The centre asked an expert to comment on the reports and notes it put together an extended Q&A with experts in March.

Dr David Teulon, Director, Better Border Biosecurity (B3):

“I can’t comment on the current response, but like any find of a small population of pests like this one, it is concerning.

“BMSB is a potentially very serious pest to many of our valued plant systems: both productive and natural. But it is also an important ‘social’ pest as it is known to invade dwellings in large numbers. Unfortunately, BMSB is not the only biosecurity concern for NZ but it is recognised as one of the more problematic.

“The threat from BMSB has been known for at least 10 years now, as it has rapidly spread around the world, and the research community, including B3, is working closely with government and industry to develop tools to keep it out of the country. The recently formed BMSB Council reflects the widespread concern for BMSB invading NZ.

“The research community has also been working closely with its international collaborators in North America, Europe and China – where BMSB is present – and with Australia, where it is not found. This has provided NZ with significant external investment and in some cases saved us years in preparation time. The Australians are just as keen to keep it out as us. New Zealand researchers, government and industry had a meeting earlier this week to coordinate our research programmes.

“BMSB poses several unique challenges for us. It hides in many commodities that cross our borders – such as shoe boxes in eBay shipments – but also larger items like imported cars. This behaviour makes it very difficult to find and kill. The current ‘pheromone’ attractants are not as strong as others used in biosecurity, so it is difficult to trap it in the landscape. That BMSB can enter New Zealand in this variety of ways makes it important that all New Zealanders are on the lookout for this pest, echoing the Biosecurity 2025 programme’s theme of ‘a biosecurity team of 4.7 million’.

“One of the outstanding successes from the research community has been the research to underpin an EPA application to release the Samurai Wasp – a natural biological control agent – should BMSB establish in New Zealand. This pre-emptive approach is considered a world first and is recognised by the international community as an example of New Zealand doing things right.”

Source:  Science Media Centre

Cargo ship ordered to leave New Zealand after pest discovery

Biosecurity New Zealand has directed a vehicle carrier to leave New Zealand waters following the discovery of stink bugs and other regulated pests.

Biosecurity officers intercepted 3 live and 39 dead brown marmorated stink bugs and 69 other dead regulated stink bugs after the Carmen arrived in Auckland from Europe on Wednesday morning.

The vessel was carrying a range of vehicles from Europe and the United States.

“The interceptions indicated the cargo was likely to be infested with stink bugs. We also believed the ship itself was contaminated,” says Steve Gilbert, border clearance services director, Biosecurity New Zealand.

“We informed industry prior to the start of the season of our hard line on cargo vessels believed to be infested with stink bug.

“This is about ensuring a dangerous pest does not get a chance to establish in New Zealand.”

The vessel left Auckland earlier this afternoon.

The vessel will now have to be treated offshore before it can return, says Mr Gilbert.

“If permitted to come back, the vessel should also expect intensive inspection before we allow any cargo to be discharged.”

The Carmen is the first cargo ship to be ordered to leave New Zealand since the beginning of the 2018/19 stink bug season in September.

In February, Biosecurity New Zealand turned around 4 bulk carriers arriving from Japan due to stink bug contamination.

Source:  Ministry for Primary Industries

Kauri dieback and myrtle rust research to be accelerated

Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods has announced a funding increase of $13.75 million over three years from the Strategic Science Investment Fund (SSIF) for research to combat the spread of kauri dieback and myrtle rust.

The Biological Heritage National Science Challenge is developing the platform plan for the SSIF.

Kauri dieback is threatening the country’s kauri with extinction and myrtle rust is threatening many iconic native species.

The new investment will be used to focus and accelerate the work already being done by Government agencies, councils, research providers, Māori and interest groups. A high-level strategy is being developed by the BioHeritage Challenge.

The strategy will align with BioHeritage’s three big goals – empower, protect, restore – and the research priorities already identified by the kauri dieback and myrtle rust Strategic Science Advisory Groups (SSAGs).

BioHeritage leader Dr Nick Waipara, of Plant & Food Research, says a core group of people with diverse expertise is being brought together to develop the strategy and subsequent workplan.

“While details are still being confirmed, it’s our intention to work closely with all key players as the strategy is developed. There has already been a lot of careful thinking about research needs in these areas and it’s our intention to build on this – not start from scratch.”

Dr Waipara  says kauri dieback and myrtle rust are critical threats to New Zealand’s environment and the team is acutely aware of how urgently something needs to be done to stop the diseases spreading.

“Connecting experts from diverse institutions is what National Science Challenges are all about – we independently focus collective thinking on nationally significant problems such as kauri dieback and myrtle rust,” he said.

“An integral part of this is to work closely in partnership with Māori.

“While we’re realistic about what can be achieved in three years, we feel confident that our collective approach will help make a big difference for Aotearoa.”

Source: Biological Heritage National Science Challenge

Biosecurity NZ to introduce new offences and penalties

Arriving vessels, transitional and containment facilities and cruise ship passengers will face new infringement offences for sloppy biosecurity practices that expose New Zealand to risk from harmful diseases and pests.

The new offences will introduce fines of $400 for individuals and $800 for other entities, such as companies, for low-level offending that is not significant enough to warrant prosecution, says Steve Gilbert, border clearance services director for Biosecurity New Zealand.

“The infringements will send a strong message about the importance of biosecurity and will deter people and organisations from breaking the rules.”

Under the changes, Biosecurity New Zealand’s quarantine officers will be able to infringe transitional and containment facilities that do not have an approved operator or don’t comply with operating standards.

International vessels will face fines for failing to notify Biosecurity New Zealand of their arrival and for failing to declare what steps they have taken to meet relevant craft risk management standards when asked to do so.

The new offences will come into force early next year.

Biosecurity New Zealand has also taken immediate steps to allow officers to fine cruise ship passengers leaving a vessel permanently if they fail to declare risk items.

Mr Gilbert says Biosecurity New Zealand intends to introduce a new declaration process that will allow it to bring in similar fines for passengers who only temporarily leave the ship.

Cruise passengers will be treated the same as travellers who fly to New Zealand, he says.  Passengers who don’t declare goods that could harm New Zealand should face a fine, whether they arrive by sea or air.

Source:  Ministry for Primary Industries

Damien O’Connor pays tribute to 2018 Biosecurity Awards winners

Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor has paid tribute to the winners of the 2018 New Zealand Biosecurity Awards.

He described them as the people and organisations who go above and beyond to protect the country from pests and diseases “to ensure our unique way of life is sustained for future generations”.

The New Zealand Biosecurity Supreme Award winner was Environment Southland for its Fiordland Marine Pathway Management Plan.

The Minister’s Biosecurity Award was won by Greg Corbett, Biosecurity Manager at the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

Mr O’Connor said:

“Greg has shown leadership from the grassroots up for over 35 years, protecting New Zealand’s farms, forests and waterways from animal pests since 1983.”

The winners are:

  • New Zealand Biosecurity Community Award – Pirongia Te Aroaro o Kahu Restoration Society
  • New Zealand Biosecurity Industry Award – Kiwifruit Vine Health
  • New Zealand Biosecurity Science Award – Scion: New Zealand Forest Research Institute
  • New Zealand Biosecurity Emerging Leader Award – Dr Amanda Black
  • New Zealand Biosecurity Māori Award – Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Te Rangi Iwi Trust
  • New Zealand Biosecurity Local and Central Government Award – Environment Southland
  • New Zealand Biosecurity Innovation Award – Jacson3 Limited
  • New Zealand Biosecurity Supreme Award – Environment Southland
  • Minister’s Biosecurity Award – Greg Corbett

Further detail is at www.mpi.govt.nz/biosecurityawards

Source:  Minister of Biosecurity