National and international biosecurity experts will converge on Tauranga this week, for a series of biosecurity-related events and the launch of a new initiative.
Local and national government, iwi, businesses and other organisations have banded together to form Tauranga Moana Biosecurity Capital to tackle the threat of invasive pests and diseases.
The partnership, which launches tomorrow, will promote and coordinate biosecurity actions across Tauranga Moana.
“In practice, that means increasing local awareness about why biosecurity matters deeply to all of us who live here and just what would be lost if exotic pests enter or establish here,” says TMBC programme director Andrew Harrison.
“It’s about a pretty powerful, knowledgeable group standing shoulder to shoulder and saying it’s absolutely essential we pool our expertise and resources for the sake of the environment, our taonga, our economy.”
Andrew says immediate TMBC priorities include overseeing a week of biosecurity-related activities, starting today.
These activities include industry training days and public events, conferences and information sessions involving forestry and kiwifruit industries, iwi, Port of Tauranga, school children and more.
The group will also host a one-day symposium at Tauranga Yacht Club tomorrow, where Biosecurity Minister Damian O’Connor will launch TMBC. Speakers and delegates will be treated to a demonstration by detector dogs.
The Minister says TMBC is the first collective of its kind in New Zealand and an exemplar for other regions.
“The concept shows leadership by local people who are working together to protect their region,” says Damian. “It’d be great to see more of the same spring up.”
Andrew says several high-profile biosecurity incursions – Psa in kiwifruit, myrtle rust, Mysoplasma bovis, marine pests affecting our harbours – serve as a reminder of what is at stake.
“Here, we value the fruit produced by a local orchard or in our back yard, having a bbq outdoors, enjoying a tramp in our local bush. And a devastating pest like brown marmorated stink bug can swarm our region and take all of these away, as has happened offshore and must not happen here.
“Of course biosecurity also affects everyone earning a living and operating a business in the Bay of Plenty, where our economy is so dependent on the natural environment.”
TMBC supports the national Ko Tātou This Is Us campaign, unveiled last late last month, which focusses on the personal and cultural impacts of a biosecurity breach and asks all New Zealanders to help create ‘a biosecurity team of 4.7 million’.