An overseas visitor was amused about how concerned border control staff were about dirt on his shoes.
“I thought New Zealanders must have a very high standard of dress,” he said.
We explained that they weren’t concerend about his satorial standards but the risk of introducing pests or diseases which could endanger native flora and fauna and primary produce.
That message isn’t clear to all visitors, or locals, so Biosecurity Month provides a timely reminder of the need for eternal vigilence:
From an emperor penguin on Peka Peka beach to the kiwifruit vine disease Psa and the alga didymo which congests waterways, it’s always possible that a new plant, animal or microbe will arrive in New Zealand.
The New Zealand Biosecurity Institute has designated July as “Biosecurity month” to raise awareness of the work done by those involved in protecting New Zealand’s natural environment from pests and diseases.
Peter Thomson, MAF Acting Deputy Director-General says collaboration is key.
“New Zealand’s biosecurity system is designed to balance the careful management of risks, with protecting our ability to trade and travel internationally,” says Peter.
“MAF leads a biosecurity system that operates on three fronts: working overseas to stop travellers and importers from bringing pests here; working at the border to identify and eliminate pests that do arrive; and working in New Zealand to find, manage or eliminate pests that have established here.”
“Collaboration is the key to keeping our country safe from incursions, and MAF works in partnership with other organisations with an interest in biosecurity, such as the Department of Conservation, regional councils, affected industry and iwi.
“But all New Zealanders have a role to play.
“For example: farmers need to make sure they buy disease-free stock; boaties need to check, clean and dry their gear between waterways; and for anyone who finds something unusual, it means calling MAF to report it.”
There is more information at www.biosecurity.govt.nz