Targeted border biosecurity welcomed

21 Aug 2009

The government decision to profile international visitors so that biosecurity measures are targeted at those who pose the greatest threat has been welcomed by the Forest Owners Association.

“The resources available for border protection are finite, so focussing them in this way makes sense,” says chief executive David Rhodes.

“The deliberate or unwitting introduction of exotic pests and diseases to New Zealand poses one of the greatest threats to our primary industry-based economy, as well as to public health, and native flora and fauna.

“It’s an area where MAF Biosecurity and our primary industries themselves need to be constantly vigilant. The fact that MAF Biosecurity has come up with an innovative approach to the risks posed by travellers shows it’s taking its role seriously.”

Forest owners also welcome the increase in the instant fine from $200 to $400 for travellers who bring undeclared plant and animal products into the country. These fines are an effective reminder to travellers of the importance of the country’s biosecurity.

“At the same time, it won’t do any harm to keep reminding travellers and importers that there are fines of up to $100,000 and prison terms of up to five years awaiting those found guilty of deliberately introducing exotic pests and diseases,” says Mr Rhodes.

“Even penalties of this order are but a small fraction of the costs New Zealand would bear if a breach of biosecurity led to a seriously harmful exotic organism becoming established here.”

For more information, please contact David Rhodes, Tel 0274 955 525