Fiji Times mis­rep­re­sents: BAF

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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.”

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