Another 51 quarantine officers and four new biosecurity detector dog teams will help protect New Zealand from invasive pests and diseases this summer, says Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor.
The new officers graduated last week at ceremonies in Auckland. The latest graduates will be based in Auckland (41), Wellington (3), Christchurch (4) and Queenstown (3).
• Biosecurity Business Pledge signed by 50 NZ companies
• 2019 New Zealand Biosecurity Awards winners announced
• No further poultry virus found in New Zealand
• Staying vigilant to defeat M. bovis
A second ceremony saw the graduation of four new detector dog teams (dog and handler). The graduating canines included two beagle/harrier crosses from Biosecurity NZ's breeding programme.
These larger dogs help with screening backpacks and oversize baggage carried by travellers.
Detector dogs are an important biosecurity tool as they are good at detecting risk materials like seeds that can be hard to pick up by x-ray.
"The Government is delivering on its commitment to strengthen New Zealand's biosecurity system and support our valuable primary sector. New Zealand's flora, fauna and livestock are the foundations of our primary sector, rural communities and economy" said O'Connor.
The Minister said in a statement that recent biosecurity outbreaks had shown the need to strengthen New Zealand's protections against pests and disease, and that further investment in biosecurity was needed as global trade and tourist numbers increase.
"In recent years we've experienced some of the busiest biosecurity summers on record. We're expecting another huge influx of international travellers this summer. These new officers will give us more biosecurity protection at airports and ports. They will also bolster our defences for mail and cargo".
O'Connor said the Coalition Government had invested $21.6 million, on top of the $880 million committed over ten years to eradicate M.bovis, $21 million to tackle Wilding Conifers and $6.8 million for response activities to eliminate fruit flies in Auckland to date.
"These additional frontline staff are part of our plan to make sure the exotic pests and diseases that could devastate our economy and wildlife have less chance of making it here in the first place, giving growers and farmers greater certainty about the health of their crops and animals".
Biosecurity New Zealand has recruited 101 new officers this year in two groups - the first 50 graduated from their training in August - and has trained 15 new detector dog teams this year.