Increase in biosecurity threats to New Zealand sees call to action from 50 businesses

The growing number of biosecurity threats the country's facing has seen a call to action from 50 businesses.

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They’ve signed a pledge to ensure they’ll do all they can to fight risks. Source: 1 NEWS

They've signed a first-of-its-kind pledge to ensure that whenever there's a risk, they'll do all they can to fight it.

Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor launched the Biosecurity Business Pledge at an event in Auckland today, telling 1 NEWS: “We're currently managing 33 incursions, those are unwanted things that've come into the country.”

He said some are small, and others like Mycoplasma bovis, are big.

“The reality is there's more trade, there's more movement of people, we have climate change, so the risks of pests and diseases coming into our country is increasing all the time, so we have to up our game.

“As a nation that depends on trade and tourism, and a country whose lifestyle is linked to our unique natural environment, having a culture of everyone taking responsibility for biosecurity is vital.

“Our primary sector is worth over $46.4 billion dollars annually and tourism is worth over $39 billion. The economic benefits of that flow through to all New Zealanders and we have to protect it," Mr O'Connor said.

Some of New Zealand’s biggest companies are in on the initiative, including Fonterra, Auckland Airport, Mainfreight and Countdown.

Executive Director of Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand, Kimberly Crewther, has been a driving force behind the action.

“It's a commitment to actively engage with MPI, to actively understand biosecurity, to actively engage upstream in our supply chains and downstream talking to our customers about the importance of it.

“There's also enormous opportunity for businesses to learn from each other and to share information about the approaches that we're taking," Ms Crewther said.

Trevelyan’s Pack and Cool in Te Puke’s felt the pain of biosecurity threats. Its kiwifruit was hit with the bacterial disease PSA in 2010.

“As it arrived on my orchard, our orchard, the whole personal experience of the loss and the journey of pulling the community together will stay with me for life," said managing director James Trevelyan.

He’s pleased to be a part of the new pledge, with his attention now shifting to future threats, including the brown marmorated stink bug.

“In Europe, I believe, kiwifruit growers are losing 30 per cent of the crop as it falls on the ground”, he said. “So that, for us, I'd lose 30 per cent of my crop”.

The businesses who signed the pledge today promising to do their bit to help, in the hope that even more businesses will get on board.