Re­duc­ing travel risks

The Orchardist - - >>Biosecurity - By Anna Rathé and Brad Siebert, photo by Ivor Earp-Jones Anna Rathe is as­sis­tant biose­cu­rity man­ager with Hor­ti­cul­ture NZ and Brad Siebert is New Zealand Av­o­cado biose­cu­rity and pro­gramme man­ager.

If you are trav­el­ling over­seas over the hol­i­day pe­riod, or any time of the year, there are a few key steps you can take to help pro­tect New Zealand’s hor­ti­cul­ture sec­tor from biose­cu­rity threats.

This coun­try’s geo­graph­i­cal re­mote­ness means we are free from a range of dam­ag­ing pests and dis­eases that oth­ers have to man­age.Threats to NZ’s pri­mary in­dus­tries ex­pand be­yond the pests that are al­ready known to be a prob­lem in other coun­tries. Many pests and pathogens be­have dif­fer­ently when in­tro­duced to a new en­vi­ron­ment due to new host avail­abil­ity, a dif­fer­ent cli­mate or a lack of nat­u­ral preda­tors which would usu­ally keep their pop­u­la­tions in bal­ance. For ex­am­ple, in­tro­duced pos­sums are a pest in NZ but do not cause wide­spread dam­age in Aus­tralia and the Brown Mar­morated Stink Bug only be­came a global con­cern once it found its way into the United States from Asia.

Dry spores or soil borne pathogens can re­main in­fec­tive for long pe­ri­ods within soil, some­times years, on footwear, or at­tached to cloth­ing. So in­ter­na­tional trav­ellers can un­con­sciously, and very eas­ily, in­tro­duce ex­tremely dam­ag­ing threats to our sec­tor.

NZ has a very ac­tive bor­der biose­cu­rity pro­gramme to help vis­i­tors un­der­stand what could present a risk to our pri­mary in­dus­tries and in­ter­vene where nec­es­sary to pre­vent the in­ad­ver­tent in­tro­duc­tion of pests. To help our biose­cu­rity au­thor­i­ties move trav­ellers through the air­port as fast as pos­si­ble while ef­fec­tively man­ag­ing biose­cu­rity risk, trav­eller hon­esty and co­op­er­a­tion is para­mount.

Our biggest in­dus­try threats like fruit fly or new fun­gal pests can make it through the bor­der as lar­vae within fruit or on un­clean footwear, which is why there is such a fo­cus by quar­an­tine of­fi­cers on en­sur­ing no food or items that could have plant ma­te­rial or soil as­so­ci­ated with them have been for­got­ten in your lug­gage. The risk as­sess­ments (ver­bal and pas­sen­ger ar­rival cards) that you ex­pe­ri­ence are one part of a ro­bust bor­der biose­cu­rity process and are in place to help pro­tect NZ’s pri­mary in­dus­tries and our en­vi­ron­ment.

No grower wants to present un­due risk to their busi­ness from their in­ter­na­tional travel. Grow­ers and those in­volved with on-or­chard op­er­a­tions re­turn­ing to NZ af­ter an over­seas trip should:

Be­fore de­part­ing for NZ clean all risk items (shoes and equip­ment) that may have come into con­tact with soil or plant ma­te­rial on off­shore or­chards and farms. Ideally use a sani­tiser.

De­clare any vis­its to an or­chard or farm while over­seas.

• An­swer all ques­tions hon­estly, even if it means a short

de­lay get­ting through bor­der clear­ance.

De­clare or dispose of any risk goods like food or fruit

Hor­ti­cul­ture NZ and other in­dus­try bod­ies are com­mit­ted to work­ing with the Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries to en­sure biose­cu­rity risk is man­aged. For those trav­el­ling, we’d like to thank you in ad­vance for your pa­tience as you go through this process at the air­port and for your time in en­sur­ing you take the above pre­cau­tions be­fore de­part­ing for NZ.

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