More frontline biosecurity officers graduate to protect NZ economy

Another 51 quarantine officers and four new biosecurity detector dog teams will help protect New Zealand from invasive pests and diseases this summer, says Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor.

The Government was committed to strengthen New Zealand’s biosecurity system and support the economically important primary sector, he said.

Recent biosecurity outbreaks had shown the need to strengthen New Zealand’s protections against pests and disease, necessitating further investment in biosecurity as the country’s global trade and tourist numbers increase.

Mr O’Connor said:

“We have invested $21.6 million since we have been in Government, this is on top of the $880 million we have committed over 10 years to eradicate M.bovis, $21 million to tackle Wilding Conifers and $6.8 million for response activities to eliminate fruit flies in Auckland to date.

“In recent years we’ve experienced some of the busiest biosecurity summers on record. We’re expecting another huge influx of international travellers this summer. These new officers will give us more biosecurity protection at airports and ports. They will also bolster our defences for mail and cargo.

“These additional frontline staff are part of our plan to make sure the exotic pests and diseases that could devastate our economy and wildlife have less chance of making it here in the first place, giving growers and farmers greater certainty about the health of their crops and animals.”

Biosecurity New Zealand has recruited 101 new officers this year in two groups – the first 50 graduated from their training in August – and has trained 15 new detector dog teams this year.

The new officers graduated today at ceremonies in Auckland.

The latest graduates will be based in Auckland (41), Wellington (3), Christchurch (4) and Queenstown (3).

Four new detector dog teams (dog and handler) graduated at a second ceremony. The graduating canines included two beagle/harrier crosses from Biosecurity NZ’s breeding programme.

These larger dogs help with screening backpacks and oversize baggage carried by travellers. Detector dogs are an important biosecurity tool. They are good at detecting risk materials like seeds that can be hard to pick up by x-ray.

Source: Minister of Biosecurity

Author: Bob Edlin

Editor of AgScience Magazine and Editor of the AgScience Blog

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