Minister backs port's biosecurity lead

By David Porter

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Nathan Guy (left) and Todd McClay at the official launch of the Biosecurity Operational Excellence at Port of Tauranga. Photo / John Borren
Nathan Guy (left) and Todd McClay at the official launch of the Biosecurity Operational Excellence at Port of Tauranga. Photo / John Borren

Minister of Primary Industries Nathan Guy believes a new biosecurity initiative at Port of Tauranga has the potential to be a model for other ports around the country.

Biosecurity Operational Excellence at Port of Tauranga aims to encourage all port workers to play a role in keeping pests out of New Zealand.

"There is an opportunity potentially for us to replicate this into other ports around the country and I know there is quite a bit of interest," said Mr Guy.

At yesterday's launch, the minister unveiled new on-site biosecurity signs designed to help raise awareness of potential threats to primary industries from unwanted pests. The programme also includes increased awareness raising during induction training for port workers, a widely distributed calendar showing potential pest risks, and a current stink bug awareness campaign.

The initiative stems from the 2010 Psa incursion which ravaged the kiwifruit industry and is being driven by Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH), the Port of Tauranga, the ministry and local government and industry organisations.

The aim is for everyone in port activities to have a better understanding of the biosecurity risks. The working group is aiming to strengthen the ministry's screening and inspection programmes.

Mr Guy said the importance placed on the initiative was reflected by the fact that Overseas Trade Minister and Rotorua MP Todd McClay also attended the Tauranga launch.

KVH chief executive Barry O'Neil said the port was a key area of risk for pest incursions.

"It's a growing port and an important port for the region and for our community. We fully support the port. What we don't want is that it creates a potential risk for our primary sector."

Zespri chief executive Lain Jager, who was one of about 40 industry and government leaders attending the launch, said the biosecurity initiative was a genuine example of government and local industry working together.

"And that's critical," said Mr Jager. "In 2010 we were heavily impacted by Psa. But a really important idea is that the biosecurity risk pressure hasn't diminished. There are many other pests and diseases that can come in. This is about protecting our future."

Standing guard:

* Some extra cruise ship biosecurity measures are already in place.

* Detector dogs have been introduced at major cruise ship ports over the past 12 months.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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