A half day special briefing to the Bay of Connections Freight Logistics Action Group (FLAG) in Mount Maunganui last week focused on highlighting potential risks to the region's logistics sector.
Key staff from the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), Kiwifruit Vine Health and biosecurity operations consultants were involved in briefing about 25 members of FLAG on the biosecurity risks that could potentially hit growth and day-to-day business operations.
"Transport and logistics is a vital link for the vast majority of primary industry export goods that leave the Port of Tauranga annually," said FLAG co-ordinator John Galbraith.
The key messages from the briefing were for companies to ensure they understood the MPI incursion procedures for imported pest emergencies; undertook scenario planning to minimise the impact of an incursion; created pest awareness identification procedures among employees and the port community; and ensured contingency plans were in place if all freight movements were restricted due to a biosecurity emergency.
"Our region's freight movements could be constrained or curtailed completely should a major incursion, such as the Queensland fruit fly, be found in or around the Mount Maunganui area," said Mr Galbraith, who is executive chairman of Eastern Bay of Plenty economic development agency Toi EDA.
"It's critical that the Bay of Plenty's freight and logistics industry acts ahead of any biosecurity incursion in order to minimise the impact on their operations, protect their future business growth prospects and minimise the impact on the wider economy."
Andrew Harrison, of Kiwifruit Vine Health, outlined real-life examples from the kiwifruit industry's Psa crisis, including how the issue affected a wide range of associated businesses outside the immediate industry. Mr Harrison provided important insights to this crisis, particularly in relation to the wider impacts, which came as a surprise to many members of FLAG, said Mr Galbraith.
"It was a lightbulb moment for a number of FLAG members in appreciating that a problem in one industry could have as significant impact on an area with totally unrelated products," he said. "You quickly appreciate you're talking about a business risk that is not necessarily directly connected to your own industry."
Forestry biosecurity analyst Bill Dyck briefed action group members about the potential negative impact on log truck and rail movements if a bug or beetle incursion stopped New Zealand forest growers from exporting for any length of time.
Mr Dyck related experiences from Chile's forest industry, which had to deal with import bans by several Asian countries, which had a significant adverse impact on freight and logistics service providers to the forestry sector there. Mr Galbraith said a potential biosecurity incursion could have a significant impact on the freight logistics sector.
"The supply chain works across regional boundaries, meaning it is essential to work with key agencies and neighbouring regions, central government, industry organisations, and key producers and importers, through collaboration and partnership."
The Bay of Connections Freight Logistics Action Group (FLAG) includes road and rail freight owners and operators, planners and representatives of service and support
The Bay of Connections is the regional growth strategy for the wider Bay of Plenty.