Beware of unwanted hitch hikers this summer
Category: National. Posted: 20 December 2023
Keep an eye out for unwanted hitch-hikers.
That’s the appeal from the NZ Biosecurity Institute (NZBI) to everyone on the move this summer holiday season.
NZBI is the networking organisation for people working or involved in all aspects of biosecurity in Aotearoa New Zealand.
NZBI President Jono Underwood says “Now that New Zealanders are beginning to travel again and the borders have opened up, it is more important than ever to keep an eye out for invasive species that may arrive from overseas or be spread around the country once they have arrived.”
NZBI is asking people travelling overseas and around the country to check they do not pick up and transport sneaky stowaways. This could be aquatic weed fragments on their boats, bugs or seeds in their returning overseas baggage, or even within parcels sent from overseas.
Mr Underwood said one of the NZBI’s own members recently found the unwanted brown marmorated stink bug in a parcel sent from overseas.
“It is extremely fortunate that this person knew to capture it and inform the Ministry for Primary Industries immediately.
“Should the brown marmorated stink bug become established here in NZ, it would be devastating for numerous food crops, as well as giving-off an unpleasant odour.
“This would make it a double-whammy for the likes of our wine industry. It is definitely one invasive species among many we really do not want to establish in NZ,” says Mr Underwood.
He said examples of recent undesirable arrivals are the invasive freshwater golden clam in the Waikato region and the invasive Caulerpa seaweed species in isolated areas off the coastal waters of the Northland, Auckland and Waikato regions.
“For these freshwater and marine invasive species, the key focus is to not give them any more of a helping hand to get around and infest new areas.”
NZBI also has a request for kiwis who are staying put these holidays.
“Over the summer season, many of those pretty garden plants or aquarium species can turn invasive when disposed of improperly. There is a long history of this occurring, so let’s learn that lesson and dispose of that garden waste and aquarium contents responsibly. Additionally, check your boots and outdoor equipment and give them a good clean before and after exploring somewhere new.”
Mr Underwood said these are all very simple actions everyone can take to help make life easier for all people involved in keeping the country safe from invasive species this holiday season.
“Every year NZBI members spend thousands of hours controlling or managing the risks to the economy and the environment from the effects of invasive species.
“Money and time spent on biosecurity is an investment that protects our economy, environment and way of life, and prevents significant costs and impacts from invasive species,” Mr Underwood said.