Posts Tagged ‘Nathan Guy’

Primary sector science roadmap to boost exports is launched

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith tonight launched the Primary Sector Science Roadmap at the National Fieldays.

Mr Guy says science will be a key driver in lifting overall primary sector exports to the target of $64 billion by 2025.

“From climate change, to changing consumer preferences, to a greater emphasis on issues like traceability and provenance, science and technology have an important role to play in ensuring our primary industries remain globally competitive,” says Mr Guy.

“This Roadmap will inform research conducted by New Zealand science and technology teams and organisations, along with their international partners.

“It provides a shared view across the primary sector on the science and technology needs for the sector – and where science investment needs to be focused. This document will guide the primary sector’s science direction for the next 10 to 20 years.

“I’d like to thank the many industry leaders, research organisations and individual scientists for all their valuable input into this document,” says Mr Guy.

Goldsmith said the creation of the Primary Sector Science Roadmap supports the Government’s overall strategy for the science system.

“The National Statement of Science Investment 2015-2025 sets out a vision for a highly dynamic science system that enriches New Zealand through excellent research that creates impact. The Government invested an estimated $428 million in primary sector research in 2016, while the industry carried out R&D worth $266 million.

“The Roadmap recognises the important role that the primary sector plays in our economy, and ensures the government, industry, and researchers are working collaboratively to achieve the best results for New Zealand through high quality science,” says Mr Goldsmith.

The Roadmap is aligned with the Conservation and Environment Science Roadmap and will be a guiding document for the strategic directions of the National Science Challenges.

You can link to the Roadmap HERE.

Manuka honey exports under threat after myrtle rust is identified in Kerikeri nursery

Biosecurity teams are scouring Kerikeri nurseries after the detection of myrtle rust, a significant disease which threatens plant varieties important to the honey industry, such as manuka and kanuka, and $300 million of annual honey exports.

Feijoa, gum and bottlebrush trees are also threatened along with some treasured indigenous species such as pohutakawa and rata.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said authorities were notified on Tuesday evening of a nursery in Kerikeri where pohutakawa seedlings had suspected myrtle rust.

Laboratory testing has since confirmed the disease.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has initiated a Restricted Place notice to restrict the movement of any plants and people at the site, and is treating nursery stock with fungicide spray as a precaution, Guy said.

Work was also under way to trace any stock that had left the nursery and all other nurseries in Kerikeri were being inspected today.

According to the Northern Advocate (HERE), the disease is prevalent in eastern Australia and Tasmania, and was discovered on Raoul Island in late March this year.

Officials believe wind is the likely pathway of incursion into Raoul Island, and it is likely that wind has carried spores to mainland New Zealand from Australia.

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry acknowledged the incursion could have serious consequences for some native species.

“Myrtle rust generally attacks soft new leaf growth, and severe infestations can kill affected plants,” Barry said.

“This could include native species like the pohutakawa and the rata.”

In Australia, the fungus has caused the extinction of several treasured plant species of significance to Aboriginal Australians.

“Myrtle rust has long been expected to arrive in New Zealand, and since the Australian outbreak began in 2010, the Government has worked on a range of measures to help manage and adapt to the fungus in the long term if necessary,” Barry said.

“This includes accelerating work already underway to collect and store germplasm from affected species, searching for signs of resistant myrtle strains which could be incorporated into a breeding programme and monitoring at 800 locations across the country.”

The Department of Conservation would also be conducting inspections of myrtle species on public conservation land in Northland for any early signs of the fungus.

There is no known method of controlling the disease in the wild, apart from applications of fungicide in very small areas as a last resort.

Even if eradication is achieved, there was an ongoing risk of reinfection from Australia.

Anyone believing they have seen myrtle rust on plants in New Zealand were asked to call MPI on 0800 80 99 66.

Govt sets freshwater target: 90% of rivers and lakes to be swimmable by 2040

The Government has announced a target of 90 per cent of New Zealand’s lakes and rivers meeting swimmable water quality standards by 2040.

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith said the plan is backed by national regulations requiring stock to be fenced out of waterways, new national policy requirements on regional councils to strengthen their plan rules on issues such as sewage discharges and planting riparian margins, a new Freshwater Improvement Fund and new maps that clearly identify where improvements are needed.

Meeting the goal is estimated to cost the Government, farmers and councils $2 billion over the next 23 years.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy (HERE) said the Ministry for Primary Industries continues to work with the primary sectors to invest in good ideas which promote environmental best practice. One example is the Farm Systems Change program, which identifies high preforming farms and uses farmers’ networks to spread their knowledge.

Another is a major programme under the Primary Growth Partnership, called Transforming the Dairy Value Chain. Under this programme effluent management systems have been improved, and every region now has a riparian planting guideline developed in conjunction with regional councils, Guy said.

“We also know that science will play a major role in improving our freshwater. The ‘Our Land and Water’ National Science Challenge is investing $96.9 million over 10 years into this, hosted by AgResearch and involving six other Crown research institutes.

In his announcement (HERE) Dr Smith said the target recognised that our frequent major rainfalls mean a 100 per cent standard is not realistic.

The target covers the length of rivers over 0.4m deep and the perimeters of lakes greater than 1.5km, which total 54,000km.

The plan is about improving the frequency that we can swim in our lakes and rivers, noting that even our cleanest rivers breach swimming water quality standards during storms.

The swimmable target is based on meeting the water quality standard at least 80 per cent of the time, in line with European and US definitions. Currently 72 per cent by length meet this definition, and the target is to increase that to 90 per cent by 2040. This means an additional 10,000km of swimmable rivers and lakes by 2040, or 400km per year.

The maps provide comprehensive and consistent information on water quality for swimming of New Zealand’s rivers and lakes. They are intended to help focus councils and communities on improving their local water quality, as well as helping people make decisions about where they can safely swim.

The maps are connected to the Land, Air, Water Aotearoa website that provides real-time information on water quality, which is particularly relevant for the fair and intermittent categories.

The target not only requires an improvement in areas that are swimmable, ie into the fair category, but also rivers and lakes being moved from fair to good, and good to excellent. Regional targets to achieve the national goals are to be worked through with regional councils by March 2018.

Some regional targets will need to be greater than the 90 per cent and others, where it is more difficult to achieve, will be less, Smith said.  .

The National Policy Statement (NPS) for Freshwater Management is being strengthened to support the new 90 per cent by 2040 swimmability target, as well as changes to address the issues of ecological health and nutrients.

New regulations on excluding stock from waterways are an important part of this plan to improve water quality. The rules progressively apply to dairy, pig, dairy support, beef and deer farms from this year to 2030 relative to the steepness of the country, at an expected cost of $367 million.

Bids have been opened for the new $100m Freshwater Improvement Fund and announcing the eligibility and assessment criteria, which closes on 13 April. This comes on top of the $350m already committed by the government, of which more than $140m has been spent on specific river and lake clean-ups.

The detail of the NPS and Stock Exclusion Regulations are open for consultation until 28 April 2017.

The press statement was accompanied by a Q& A paper and a paper titled Clean Water. 

To read the proposals, and find out how to have your say, visit www.mfe.govt.nz

Horticulture industry can celebrate strong export growth

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming a new report showing a 40 per cent growth in horticulture export earnings since 2014.

The strong results are highlighted in Horticulture New Zealand and the New Zealand Horticulture Export Authority’s report New Zealand Horticulture – Barriers to Our Export Trade which is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and NZ Fruitgrowers Charitable Trust.

“Horticulture is a star performer of the New Zealand economy with export revenue just under $5 billion, making it one of our most important industries,” says Mr Guy.

“The report highlights that tariffs on exported produce have come down by 22 percent since 2012, which is good news but there is still more to be done. Reducing tariffs and non-tariff barriers are a big priority for the Government.

“Horticulture has a goal of being a $10 billion industry by 2020 and they are well on the way. They are now New Zealand’s fourth largest export industry and employ 60,000 people in New Zealand.

“It’s very fitting for this report to be released on the day when Horticulture New Zealand is celebrating 100 years of representing growers, starting as the New Zealand Fruitgrowers Federation in 1916.

This week the Government hopes the Horticulture Export Authority Amendment Bill will pass it’s final reading in Parliament, providing a framework for producers and exporters to collaborate in export marketing their products.”

The Executive Summary of the report is available on the Horticulture Export Authority website.

Govt musters resources for campaign to rid NZ of predators by 2050

The Government has announced plans to set up a new public-private partnership company by the beginning of 2017 to help fund regional large-scale predator eradication programmes.

Its aim is to achieving the goal of a Predator Free New Zealand by 2050.

This will require a massive team effort across the public, private, iwi and community sectors, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says.

The Predator Free 2050 Project will combine the resources of lead government agencies the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for Primary Industries to work in partnership with local communities.

Under the strategy a new government company, Predator Free New Zealand Limited, will sponsor community partnerships and pest eradication efforts around the country.

Not all the technology to make New Zealand predator free yet exists, and the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge will have an important role in developing the science to achieve the predator free goal.

“By bringing together central and local government, iwi, philanthropists, and community groups, we know that we can tackle large-scale predator free projects in regions around New Zealand,” Ms Barry says.

“Project Taranaki Mounga and Cape to City in Hawke’s Bay are great examples of what’s possible when people join forces to work towards a goal not achievable by any individual alone.”

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says the goal of a Predator Free New Zealand by 2050 will have major positive impacts for farmers and the wider primary sector.

“Possums and ferrets are the main carriers of bovine TB, which is a very destructive disease for cattle and deer. In this year’s Budget the Government committed $100 million towards combined eradication efforts with industry starting with cattle and deer by 2026,” Mr Guy says.

“By pooling our resources and working together we can jointly achieve our goals of both eradicating bovine TB, and achieving a predator free New Zealand.”

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce says the Biological Heritage Challenge has an established network of scientists who are ready and willing to take on the Predator Free Challenge.

“For the first time technology is starting to make feasible what previously seemed like an unattainable dream.”

Predator Free New Zealand Limited will have a board of directors made up of government, private sector, and scientific players. The board’s job will be to work on each regional project with iwi and community conservation groups and attract $2 of private sector and local government funding for every $1 of government funding.

Four goals for 2025 have been set for the project:

  • An additional 1 million hectares of land where pests have been supressed or removed through Predator Free New Zealand partnerships;
  • Development of a scientific breakthrough capable of removing at least one small mammalian predator from New Zealand entirely;
  • Demonstrate areas of more than 20,000 hectares can be predator free without the use of fences;
  • Complete removal of all introduced predators from offshore island nature reserves

Ms Barry says these are ambitious targets in themselves, “but ones that we are capable of reaching if we work together”.

Ministers might know about tax – but what about the importance of taxonomy?

RSNZ-National-Taxonomic-Collections-in-New-Zealand-2015-cover

Want to give Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce something for Christmas?

Here’s an idea: a gift-wrapped copy of a report just published by the Royal Society of New Zealand – just in case he is much too busy to read it (or is disinclined to read it) before he knocks off for the Christmas-New Year holiday.

Biosecurity Minister Nathan Guy could benefit from being given a copy, too.

The society convened a panel of experts to provide recommendations on the  support, development, and management of New Zealand’s taxonomic collections and their future needs, including the taxonomic research, information systems, and expertise vital to make them useful.

The panel’s investigation identified inadequate and overall declining support for this nationally important resource.

The consequences are of huge concern to the nation for many reasons, including biosecurity ones:

Erosion of investment, particularly evident in the CRI sector, has seen loss of national capability in specialised expertise in taxonomy and curation through redundancies, reduced hours, and non-replacement of retiring staff. In addition it has led to collections being closed or having limits put on access, and reduced ability to protect specimens and deliver services.

Continued decline in support for the collections is a real risk for New Zealand, especially if it continues to occur largely out of sight and incrementally until a major event in the future highlights deficiencies.

The significance of this for the primary sector and NZIAHS members is spelled out in the executive summary of the panel’s report:

  • The primary production sector requires accurate and authoritative information to provide proof that products are pest- or disease-free for export markets and ongoing access. The identification of pests, pathogens, and biological contaminants is critical for maintaining market reputation especially in relation to food safety. In addition, taxonomy is essential for the identification of species that may have economic potential or attributes that, for example, would be valuable under changed climate conditions. Also of economic value is the development of innovative products on the basis of biodiscovery from native biota; species identification and distribution information are crucial for such activities.
  • Biosecurity, an important part of risk management for New Zealand’s economy, environment, and human health, depends on accurate, authoritative and rapid identifications of invasive organisms such as weeds, pests, toxin producers, and pathogens. Collections and knowledgeable research taxonomists provide the primary material and vouchers needed. Without such capacity, response to biosecurity threats would be based on little more than guesswork.

Among other issues, the paper says New Zealand has a clear international responsibility to identify, classify and protect its species, and meet international treaty obligations (eg the Convention on Biological Diversity, Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, environmental reporting in the OECD). This includes the obligation to implement the agreed-upon New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy, which calls for the protection of natural ecosystems, flora, and fauna.

Then there are legislated requirements for accurate and timely information about species, their distributions, and their interrelationships (eg the Resource Management Act, Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act, Environmental Impact Assessments as part of regulations such as the Extended Economic Zone and Continental Shelf Environmental Effects Act).

Further, New Zealand’s ability to provide certainty about the effects of resource use and management in the primary sector (agriculture, horticulture, forestry, aquaculture, wild fisheries, and mining) is heavily dependent on biological collections and taxonomic expertise.

Joyce needs to think hard about the panel’s concerns about a disconnect between the funding and delivery of services.

There is no apparent strategic alignment between the setting of short-term output priorities of departments and agencies, and the long-term input investment priorities of those providing the main funding to the collections’ infrastructure.

Despite their uniqueness and value, legal protection for collections exists only under the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa Act 1992, the Auckland War Memorial Museum Act, and Trust Board Acts of some metropolitan museums. In addition, the Protected Objects Act 1975 is now dated and provides protection for natural history specimens mainly in the area of sale and export outside of New Zealand.

The report says New Zealand’s publicly funded taxonomic workforce is only funded to spend a small proportion of their time on taxonomic research, far below the standards of Australia and Canada.

In a survey of 97 publicly funded taxonomists, the panel found 77% are funded to spend less than 25% of their time on taxonomic research and only 16% of the workforce is in the 20–40 age bracket.

This situation poses a real risk for New Zealand, for example in terms of succession planning. This is compounded by concerns over whether graduates in biology are sufficiently equipped with an understanding of basic taxonomic principles. .

By the time Joyce and Guy have digested the report’s observations and recommendations along with their Christmas dinner, they should have plenty of ideas for New Year resolutions.

For example, they might (and should) resolve to urgently address the immediate investment needs of the national taxonomic collections and research staff so that critical taxonomic expertise is restored, and that services and quality are not put at further risk.

 

 

 

$8.4 million for wool research partnership

The Government will invest $8.4 million over seven years in a research partnership that could transform New Zealand’s wool industry.

The Wool Industry Research Ltd (WIRL) partnership “New Uses for Wool” is co-funded by the Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand and is worth $21 million overall.

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce said the new research partnership was examining effective ways to deconstruct coarse wool fibre and reconstitute it in a range of new functional forms.

He said:

“The innovative programme could potentially expose vast new markets for New Zealand wool. It has already attracted strong interest from the high-value multinational cosmetics industry, and has the support of local farmers and wool processors.”

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said the new funding would build on the successful work tWIRL has already undertaken in generating new ideas for wool, including novel textiles, bedding materials and filtration materials.

“The research partnership is between NZ Wool Services International Ltd, AgResearch Ltd, Lincoln Agritech, and Otago and Massey Universities. There is potential for other companies to join the partnership in the future.

“The Government is pleased to be investing in quality science that has the potential to grow the New Zealand wool industry.”

The partnership investment mechanism is administered by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

More information can be found here on the MBIE website.