Fiji Times misrepresents: BAF
Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) is appalled with the Fiji Times for misrepresenting BAF in its article “BAF extends termite hot spots” published in Wednesday’s Fiji Times (28/09/2016 – page 4). In a statement yesterday the authority said: “The article is factually incorrect and an attempt to sensationalize the Asian Subterranean Termites (AST) infestation in Labasa. “Cawaira and Urata are not hot spot areas for AST infestation.” The statement further said:
“Fiji Times’ claim that AST is migrating to new areas is also incorrect. There is no confirmed migration of AST to new areas.
“The headline of the article and the article itself gives an impression that AST infestation in Labasa is increasing; however, this is untrue. “What is more disappointing is that Fiji Times published the article without any attempt to verify the information. This is very poor journalism and irresponsible reporting.”
It further stated: “The final statements of the article also misrepresents BAF by alleging that BAF had issued Fiji Times with a warning not to cover any articles on termites or Giant Invasive Iguana (GII). This is blatantly untrue. “BAF did not advise Fiji Times to refrain from publishing any and all articles on AST and GII. BAF had specifically directed
Fiji Times to refrain from publishing articles on AST, GII, American Foulbrood (AFB) and Borvine Tuberculosis that would obstruct BAF in the performance of its functions or cause civil unrest or panic as these pests and diseases are currently subject to Biosecurity Emergency Declarations.
“Despite this official direction, Fiji Times has proceeded to publish the article which is riddled with misrepresentations, obstructs BAF in the performance of its functions and could potentially cause unnecessary civil unrest and panic as a result of the misrepresentations.” “AST is a serious issue and a lot of effort and funds have been put in by the Fijian Government to assist the Fijian communities affected by the pest. “The treatment of AST is provided free of charge by the Fijian Government as the welfare of all Fijians and Fiji’s biodiversity is its priority.”
Such ... media reporting not only hinders and curtails all the good efforts done to control and contain the spread and damage from this invasive pest but also creates unnecessary panic and unrest amongst the public and obstructs BAF in the performance of its functions under the emergency provisions provided by Part 10 of the Biosecurity Promulgation 2008.
“Fiji Times must urgently retract its article and publish an apology. Furthermore, Fiji
Times must refrain from inaccurately and unnecessarily sensationalizing serious national issues.” Source: Biosecurity Authority of Fiji
Fiji Times response
The Fiji Times editor-in-chief, Fred Wesley, said: “The Fiji
Times reported the proceedings of a meeting where a representative of BAF had made the revelations, which were also confirmed by the advisory councillor of the affected areas. “We value and appreciate the work of BAF. The article was to create awareness and not to undermine the work of the Authority or sensationalise the issue. If anything, the article would make people more proactive and cautious of these termites. “We regret any inconvenience caused and we will always endeavour to work with BAF on issues of national importance.”