20-20 Vigilance for all Unwanted Organisms is Vital
Category: National. Posted: 23 July 2020
Institute president Alice McNatty said Covid 19 has shown the extent to which Kiwis will go, to protect their health and wellbeing.
“There are many other biological threats to be aware of but the same basic practices occur - constant vigilance and good hygiene practices,” she said.
The Institute today [MONDAY 27 JULY 2020] launched Biosecurity Week, a week of activities nationwide in which those working in the biosecurity sector highlight their work to their communities.
The theme of the week this year is “20-20 Vigilance”.
Ms McNatty said it’s vital to understand the words “good hygiene” in the wider context of all practices which contribute to preventing all diseases, especially through cleanliness, of equipment including vehicles, and the way we quarantine products not just people coming from overseas.
She said Covid 19 is a reminder of the need to be vigilant for all pests and diseases.
“We need a team of five million New Zealanders so we can do this.”
“Tried-and-true ways of controlling the nation’s animal and plant pests and other invasive organisms have worked well, but something we have always known is the importance of early detection, meaning constant vigilance. We want everyone’s eyes wide open for 20-20 vigilance.”
Ms McNatty said many of our enemies are already here.
“There is a huge time lag from when new organisms arrive in New Zealand until they become pests.
“Good science and constant vigilance are the secrets to keeping the country’s emerging pests under control.
“What are known as legacy pests have been with us for a long time and we must continue to control them so they do not spread. These are rabbits, possums, gorse, and broom. Also now becoming a problem are wallabies and wilding pine trees.
“Some major biosecurity responses in addition to Covid 19 include the attempt to eradicate mycoplasma bovis from cattle as well as attempts to control the spread of kauri dieback.
“We have shown there can be successes. We have successfully defended the country from Queensland fruit fly on several occasions and most recently we have eradicated the pea weevil - a world first we believe. As well a species of saltmarsh mosquito was eradicated from New Zealand this year. To our knowledge, this is only the second time in the world that any saltmarsh mosquito has been eradicated from a country.”
The NZ Biosecurity Institute is the professional networking organisation for people involved in all aspects of biosecurity including pest animal and plant management, and border control. Its members work for research organisations, educational institutions, regional councils, government departments and private organisations. All are involved in protecting NZ from invasive species.
Ms McNatty said every year Institute members spend hundreds of hours controlling or managing the risks to the economy and the environment of the effects of introduced pests.
“This is work which costs the country hundreds of millions of dollars each year through control, research and border control budgets. This money is coming out of all New Zealanders’ pockets.”
Ms McNatty said anyone who thinks they have seen any unwanted organism should contact their regional council or Biosecurity NZ.