Mite might trim old man’s beard

A gall mite may be introduced to New Zealand to control the pervasive weed old man’s beard, if an application to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) succeeds.

The weed forms dense, permanent masses with heavy layered stems that smother and collapse underlying vegetation.

Heavy infestations prevent regeneration, leading to loss of native species in affected areas. This can open vegetation to invasion by other weeds.

Old man’s beard can also scramble over the ground, destroying low-growing plant communities on riverbanks, and in coastal and other sensitive habitats.”

“It colonises open forests, forest margins, shrublands, riversides, cliffs, bushtracks and hedgerows. It is also a troublesome urban weed. The vines can extend as far as 20 metres,” ,” says Dr Clark Ehlers, EPA senior advisor New Organisms.

Horizons Regional Council has applied to the authority to introduce the gall mite, Aceria vitalbae, on behalf of the National Biocontrol Collective, comprised of 14 regional councils and the Department of Conservation.

While old man’s beard, Clematis vitalba, is a member of the Ranunculaceae family, of which there are nine native Clematis species and four native genera in the same subfamily, laboratory tests and overseas experience suggest the gall mite is unlikely to colonise other species of Clematis.

Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research  is the science provider for the application, and consulted widely before choosing six exotic Clematis species or hybrids for host range testing at the University of Belgrade in Serbia.

According to the applicant, the results suggest that the gall mite is expected to effectively colonise only old man’s beard in New Zealand. Occasional galls may be expected on exotic, non-target Clematis species, but the presence of low numbers of mites is unlikely to cause them damage.

The application says that old man’s beard causes environmental damage throughout most of New Zealand, often in distant or inaccessible areas of high conservation value. Most infestations go unmanaged.

Biological control by the gall mite could provide a safe and sustainable alternative to mechanical and chemical methods of control, the applicant says. The gall mite could also disperse to isolated infestations that are inaccessible, or unknown to land owners. It would persist from year to year.

“Adult gall mites are less than one millimetre long,” Dr Ehlers notes. “They do not fly, but disperse on the wind. They attack old man’s beard by sucking out plant juices and creating tumour-like galls on leaves and shoots. This often leads to the death of that part of the plant.”

The applicant notes that successful biological control of the weed would mean reduced costs for regional councils, the Department of Conservation and other land owners. Five regional councils recently estimated they spend approximately $760,000 per year to fight old man’s beard.

Public submissions on this application open on Wednesday 18 July 2018 and close at 5pm on 29 August 2018.

View application details and information

Source:  Environmental Protection Authority


Environmental Protection Authority chair and deputy announced

The new Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) board chairperson and deputy were announced by Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage today.

The new chairperson is Julie Hardaker; her deputy is Steven Tīpene Wilson.

The EPA board is responsible for the authority’s governance.

The EPA makes decisions for and regulates hazardous substances and new organisms as well as specified marine activities in New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone. It also provides administrative support for the decision-making on major infrastructure and called in projects under the Resource Management Act and operates the New Zealand Emissions Trading Register under the Emissions Trading Scheme.

The Minister said former Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker brings a depth and breadth of experience to the role including knowledge of central and local government processes and public and employment law.

Steven Tīpene Wilson is deputy and former chair of Ngā Kaihautū Tikanga Taiao, the EPA’s Māori Statutory Advisory Committee.

He has won a NZ Planning Institute Best Practice award in strategic planning and guidance, and has knowledge of central government and regional council processes.

Outgoing chair Kerry Prendergast has served the EPA Board since its inception in 2011 and was joined by deputy chair Kevin Thompson in 2012.

Other appointments are Dr Gerda Kuschel and Professor Jeroen Douwes, who replace Kura Denness and Geoff Thompson.

Dayle Hunuia, Tim Lusk, Gillian Wratt and Nicki Crauford will continue as EPA board members.

Views sought on application to introduce new insecticide Vayego

The Environmental Protection Authority is asking for submissions on an application to approve an insecticide called Vayego for use in New Zealand.

Any approval would be a world first for Vayego and its manufacturer, Bayer New Zealand, which is aiming to market its use to control coddling moth, leafrollers and other pests in apples and pears, stonefruit, and grapes.

The insecticide could also be used to treat cabbage white butterfly larvae, leaf miner, diamond back moth larvae, and other pests in vegetable and forage brassicas.

Public submissions form part of the authority’s assessment process for new hazardous substance applications that are publicly notified under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act.

Information provided is analysed and considered by a decision-making committee, which ultimately decides whether the substance can be imported or manufactured for use in New Zealand, and the controls (rules) that may be necessary to manage any environmental or human health concerns.

Submissions close at 5pm on 2 August 2018.  They can be made HERE. 

Source:  Environmental Protection Authority


Public views sought on persistent organic pollutants

The Environmental Protection Authority is seeking public views on a proposal that New Zealand ratify international agreements on banning and controlling some of the world’s most toxic and persistent substances.

The Acting General Manager of the Hazardous Substances Group, Gayle Holmes, says parties to both the Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions meet every two years and decide on the addition of any new chemicals to the list of those that should be banned or restricted.

“This is important work where key global players agree to eliminate or restrict the use and production of the worst of the worst chemicals in the world,” says Gayle.

“But in order for this to take place in New Zealand, amendments are required to the relevant New Zealand laws.”

The Stockholm Convention bans and restricts persistent organic pollutants while the Rotterdam Convention focuses on cooperation between member countries about these chemicals.

“Persistent organic pollutants are dangerous substances that remain in the environment and can accumulate in the bodies of people and other living things,” says Gayle.

The Stockholm Convention has called for the ban of decabromodiphenyl ether, which is a flame retardant that was commonly used in plastics in electronic equipment, and in textiles in furniture and carpets.

Additionally, short-chain chlorinated paraffins, which were used in rubber, paints, adhesives and sealants, and metal-working cutting fluids, have made the list.

The Rotterdam Convention has added the pesticides carbofuran and trichlorfon to their watch list, both of these chemicals have been reassessed under the HSNO Act, and were subsequently prohibited for use as pesticides in New Zealand in 2011.

It is proposed that Tributyl tin compounds, commonly used on an industrial scale as boat anti-fouling paint prior to 2000, will now be subject to more notification and control between member states.

The public can provide feedback on our website until 16 July 2018.

Online submissions can be made HERE. 

Source: Environmental Protection Authority

Ministers’ Letter of Expectations to the EPA for 2018/19

Environment Minister David Parker and Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage have sent the Environmental Protection Authority a formal ‘Letter of Expectations for the 2018/19 Financial Year’

This letter outlines their high-level priorities and operational expectations of the EPA over the year. These expectations will aid the EPA’s Board in its strategic planning.

For more detailed information please read the Letter of Expectations (pdf 1.83MB)

Source: Environmental Protection Authority


We are an open book, EPA says in statement setting out policy on openness

The Environmental Protection Authority has issued a press statement to emphasise its staff work on the principle of ‘open by default’, so EPA information and data is accessible to everyone.

It will publish information on its website unless it has a justifiable reason – such as for personal privacy reasons, or due to legislative restrictions – to keep it under wraps.

The EPA says:

We call it our ‘Open Book’ policy. It means we’re committed to ensuring our information and data is easy to access, quick to find, and can be understood by everyone; from a chemical manufacturer who needs to access it for statutory reasons, to someone simply wanting to find out more about the work we do.

We’re guided by the Official Information Act 1982. This piece of legislation promotes access, and increases availability, to official information held by government agencies.

Our policy’s also underpinned by the Open Government Partnership, of which our Government is a member. The Partnership is an international agreement by governments to ‘create greater transparency, increase civic participation, and use technologies to make their governments more open, effective, and accountable’.

In 2016, New Zealand ranked seventh out of 115 countries in the Open Data Barometer (released by the World Wide Web Foundation). The barometer measures how governments across the globe publish and provide access to data.

And earlier this year, the New Zealand Government signed up to the International Open Data Charter. This collaboration between governments and experts aims to open up data, and is based on six principles that say data should be:

  • open by default
  • timely and comprehensive
  • accessible and usable
  • comparable and interoperable
  • for improved governance and citizen engagement
  • for inclusive development and innovation.

The EPA says it works hard to make sure it is meeting these principles.

But there will be incidences [sic] where we can’t publish certain information on our website.

If you can’t find the information you’re looking for, or need, or there’s information you think should be available on our website, you can get in touch via email at

Where information has been updated or superseded, we make every attempt to ensure that only the most current version is available. If you would like to see previous versions, you can request them from us.

To request information under the Official Information Act, you can email us at

The EPA statement invites those who would like to know more about open governments and open data to visit these sites:

What is open data? – website

Open Data Charter website

Open Government Partnership website

Open Data Barometer website

Official Information Act 1982 – New Zealand Legislation website

Source: Environmental Protection Authority

EPA releases science behind hazardous substances

The Environmental Protection Authority has publicly released, for feedback, the approach used to assess hazardous substances which pose risks to people and New Zealand’s environment.

Dr Fiona Thomson-Carter, General Manager of the EPA’s Hazardous Substances Group, says there’s always a lot of interest in the authority’s decisions on what hazardous substances we approve and why.

“The approach and the scientific models outlined in the guide help us decide how to manage risks, by either imposing controls on how the substance is used, like its maximum strength, who it is available to, and how it is labelled, or declining the application,” says Dr Thomson-Carter.

“These are important decisions and we’re encouraging interested parties to read our guide and give us feedback on how useful and user-friendly the material is.”

This is the first time the authority has released its decision-making approach, which assesses the evidence and data for hundreds of imported or manufactured hazardous substances in New Zealand.

New Zealanders come into contact with hazardous substance daily, including a range of substances from fly sprays through to weed killers, Dr Thomson-Carter said.

“We always look at the benefits and risks and costs, and consider the effects a substance poses to human health, the environment, and the economy,” she said.

“The EPA will only grant and approval for a hazardous substance to be imported or manufactured in New Zealand if it is considered that the risks can be adequately managed, and that the benefits outweigh any residual risk.”

As the authority continues to refocus on becoming a more proactive and transparent regulator, it wants to enable interested parties and the public to understand the science behind its decision-making, Dr Thomson-Carter said.

Read the risk assessment guide HERE.

Source: Environmental Protection Authority