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NZ: DoC's advice to Nelson highlights poor regional biosecurity

Horticulture New Zealand believes this country's ability to control regional biosecurity risk is woeful and there are few signs of any willingness to improve.

"We have no real appreciation of the importance of controlling the movement of pest and disease between different parts of the country," HortNZ chief executive Peter Silcock says. "This is an area of biosecurity we could do a much better job on, instead of leaving it up to chance and collectively crossing our fingers. Most pests around the world are not spread naturally. It takes humans to move them from place to place."

The Department of Conservation has called on the residents of Nelson to check their caravans and trailers for Great White Butterfly pupae before they leave the district on holiday this year. They are warning residents they could inadvertently spread the pest, which DoC has been working hard to eradicate from Nelson. The pest is a major threat to commercial crops and native plants.

Meanwhile the kiwifruit industry is still trying to work out how the deadly kiwifruit disease Psa spread out of the Bay of Plenty into Wanganui. There was no plant material or machinery movement.

"This is such a common story for horticulture, and the fact is, it affects every home gardener as well. We have little or no national co-ordination of vigilance around movement of pest and disease within New Zealand," Peter says.

Horticulture is impressed with DoC's efforts to try to keep this story in front of people. "This is a worthy attempt to draw attention to the very real possibility that this pest could be easily moved to another part of the country, tucked up in someone's beach umbrella or picnic table."

For more information:
Peter Silcock
Horticulture New Zealand
Phone: +64 027 448 7036

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