October 17, 2001 - Wellington MEDIA RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE USE
Spiders, mosquitoes - what next?
Forest and Bird is calling on the government to take immediate action following the latest in a series of biosecurity
Forest and Bird Biosecurity Awareness Officer, Karli Thomas, said "the latest discoveries of a black widow spider in
grapes from California and Asian tiger mosquitoes in a used vehicle are completely unacceptable, and a risk to the
environment and human health."
Both these finds are an exact repeat of previous incidents. "MAF is failing to learn from mistakes and is allowing the
same pests to arrive in the same goods again and again. Biosecurity should be a system of continual review and
improvement, but MAF is not taking that approach," Ms Thomas said.
Ms Thomas said Forest and Bird supports the Green Party's call for an immediate ban on the importation of grapes from
California. "Californian grape imports clearly represent a risk for the introduction of pests including black widow
spiders and red back jumping spiders."
Forest and Bird is also calling for an immediate review of the Used Vehicle Import Health Standard, which currently
allows used vehicles to be imported to New Zealand without being decontaminated prior to shipment.
Ms Thomas said that Forest and Bird has been campaigning for several years to have used vehicles cleaned before they
arrive in New Zealand. "Last year MAF released a draft Import Health Standard which required offshore cleaning of
vehicles, but after several months MAF reneged on that and issued an Standard that was virtually unchanged from the
previous weak approach."
The government is currently developing a biosecurity strategy for New Zealand, which the public has the opportunity to
comment on. "The message we need to send the government is that they have to start getting the basics right - if
something goes wrong, acknowledge the mistake and prevent it from happening again".
Forest and Bird awaits the government's action to ensure that these particular biosecurity mistakes are not repeated
Ends email: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact: Karli Thomas, Biosecurity Awareness Officer, Tel: 04 385
Barry Weeber, Senior Conservation Officer
Tel: 04 385 7374, 025 622 7369
For further information:
Used vehicle imports:
The Labour Party Policy on Biosecurity, October 1999, is to "stop used vehicle and machinery imports from bringing pests
into New Zealand by requiring mandatory, and audited, decontamination and inspection of such high-risk imports before
they leave for New Zealand."
There have been numerous breaches of biosecurity defences involving used vehicles and machinery, including
disease-spreading mosquitoes, forest destroying pests and ant nests. Other risks have included the interception of
grossly contaminated machinery - including a full garbage truck, a silage cutter with 150kg of organic material and a
dirty bus. The bus got through border checks completely and was not found until it broke down in the Lyttleton tunnel
The biosecurity issues paper was released earlier this month, and is available from the Biosecurity Strategy website
www.biostrategy.govt.nz . The website also includes a calendar of dates and venues of public meetings to be held around the country. People are
invited to attend public meetings and make submission on the issues paper, by December 31st 2001.