March 01, 2018
Myrtle rust exposes biosecurity lapses
The Maori Biosecurity Network Te Tira Whakamataki says New Zealand could be on the brink of an ecological catastrophe because of failings in the biosecurity system.
Spokesperson Nick Waipara says native taonga species are at a tipping point because of climate change, fragmentation, and the burden of new invasive species.
He’s accusing the new government of being lacklustre in its approach to dealing with system failure.
The network is alarmed at the decision by the Ministry for Primary Industries to lift a controlled area notice in Taranaki, intended to prevent the spread of myrtle rust, on the same day as it was confirmed the fungus has been discovered on conservation land for the first time.
Dr Waipara says the Minister and his officials have effectively thrown their hands up and abandoned the environment and the people whose cultural identity and livelihoods depend upon it.
He says the controlled areas strategy may have failed because of a lack of control and detection tools, as well as delays in implementation, resourcing and auditing.
Te Tira Whakamataki wants to see a dedicated, independent and fully funded bio-security agency to provide oversight and auditing of biological threats to native species and ecosystems, especially those with cultural, social and environmental value.
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