Biosecurity 2025

Overview of biosecurity in New Zealand: Opportunities to make a difference

Smith R, Ministry for Primary Industries

Roger Smith, Chief Operations Officer at the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), will give an overview of biosecurity in MPI, and will indicate science and technology needs to prepare for the future. Today’s biosecurity system comes with a number of challenges and opportunities, and partnership in science and innovation will be key to addressing them.

Biosecurity: Are we really trying to stop the tide?

O’Neil B, Kiwifruit Vine Health

There is a school of thought that with the exponential increase in travel and trade each year – originating from every corner of the planet – it is only a matter of time before all the world’s exotic pests and pathogens of plants and animals that could establish in New Zealand’s primary sector and conservation estate will do so. The belief is that although some of these pests and pathogens are of course able to fly or blow over the ditch and arrive under their own steam, many more could either hitch a ride or be smuggled in with the mindboggling amount of trade and travel occurring. The big question is, if this is true, aren’t we only delaying the inevitable? And in the process spending hundreds of millions of dollars with the false hope that we can keep unwanted organisms out of New Zealand? Should we instead be selling the X-ray machines to the scrap metal dealers and giving the beagles to Facebook animal lovers? Should we re-direct the money saved from no longer needing a biosecurity border, investigation, surveillance and response capability into the National Science Challenge to develop new 21st century tools and management approaches to minimise the impacts of the plethora of inevitable arrivals over the coming decades? This is a scenario that most countries around the world seem to have already adopted. They have either never had biosecurity capability and investment along the same lines as New Zealand, or they have long ago dropped their efforts in this area because it proved to be too hard to maintain with so many ‘unwanteds’ getting through the safety net. Should New Zealand consider a similar pathway?

End-to-end innovative science across the plant border biosecurity continuum

Teulon D, Plant & Food Research

New threats to our valued pastoral, forestry, horticulture, cropping and natural plant systems from increasing and changing trade and tourism and climate change are challenging New Zealand’s world-recognised biosecurity system. Biosecurity 2025 recognises the imperative for a science-based biosecurity system with effective collaboration between science providers, industry, government and iwi, to enhance biosecurity outcomes. Operational activities based on innovative research are required across the border biosecurity continuum, including: * risk assessment: identifying hazards, assessing risk and ascertaining the optimal intervention points for mitigation strategies * pathway risk management: reducing risks along importation pathways by developing and implementing new management tools * diagnostics: developing and implementing fast, cost-effective, generically applicable, reliable and accurate diagnostic methods and tools * surveillance: developing and applying knowledge and tools that ensure investment in surveillance provides optimal returns * eradication and response: increasing preparedness for responses by developing and applying tools to support robust decision-making, and by delivering
effective and acceptable response options.

Port of Tauranga Biosecurity Excellence - A key partnership targeting biosecurity challenges of the future.

Mark Whitworth, Port of Tauranga

From pets to pests: Threat of invasion from the trade in new alien species

Cassey P, University of Adelaide

The growth and commercialisation of the Internet has greatly modified the environment in which pet markets and wildlife trade can operate. The rapid evolution and diversity of online platforms and marketplaces demands innovative approaches to both surveillance and compliance in relation to keeping alien species. As these online markets grow, so too does the risk that they will result in new vertebrate introductions and invasions. The unreported incursion of a new (atlarge) alien vertebrate species is a serious emerging biosecurity risk, and creates special imperatives to identify hazards early and intervene cost-effectively. A great deal of relevant information is available to assist biosecurity agencies and decision-makers to take early preventive action to protect the environment and economic activities (e.g. agricultural and social assets). I will discuss a series of case studies from Australia examining the incursion of, trade in and surveillance of new invasive vertebrate species (birds, reptiles, amphibians), and the burgeoning global risk of trade in
pet species.

In search of the Cheshire cat’s smile

Kean J1,2, Phillips C2,3, Meurisse N2,4, Bulman L2,4, Anderson D2,5, MacLellan R6, Stevens P6, Stephenson B6
1AgResearch, 2Better Border Biosecurity (B3), 3AgResearch, 4Scion, 5Landcare Research, 6Ministry for Primary Industries

Over ecological time, populations wax and wane like the gradual appearance and disappearance of Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire cat, whose smile always appears first and lingers longest. In biosecurity we are particularly interested in finding nascent invading populations early so that they can be eradicated or managed before they boom. Conversely, in biodiversity protection we are often concerned with finding and protecting those rare species that may be fading away. Biosecurity and biodiversity practitioners have usually worked independently, each developing their own methods for detecting rare, small or transient populations. But the realisation that both are concerned with the same thing – detecting the Cheshire cat’s smile – offers potential for cross-fertilisation of ideas and methods. We will discuss methods for statistically based surveillance and detection, and will give some examples of crazy and ambitious applications to biosecurity and biodiversity management: designing economically optimal early detection systems for fruit flies and forestry pests; investigating the report of an invading pasture tunnel moth; determining appropriate trapping responses to invading populations and wildlife disease eradication; proving a world-first eradication of the great white butterfly; and determining whether and when some of our ‘ghost’ species went extinct. Understanding the efficacy of biological sampling systems, from UAVs to eDNA, increases the value of survey data by quantifying the certainty of conclusions, particularly for those taxa that are not found. This enables better decision-making and can ultimately save money, protect agricultural production and sometimes even preserve species. Perhaps that’s what the Cheshire cat has been smiling about all along?

Is the supply of invasive species limited?

Brockerhoff E1, Liebhold A2, Kimberley M1
1Scion (New Zealand Forest Research Institute), 2USDA Forest Service

It has been suggested that the ongoing establishment of more and more invading species may eventually limit the availability of remaining species available for future invasions. To assess whether source pool depletion is in fact occurring, we used a mechanistic model that considers both the finite nature of source species pools and increases in international trade to predict future numbers of new invasions. The most abundant species are likely to invade first, given their high propagule pressure, while the many rare species are likely to invade only under high pathway volumes. We applied this model to the case study of bark beetle invasions in New Zealand and the USA (a country with a greater import volume), using information on actual historical invasions and the known source species pools in Europe and Asia. We determined that actual source species pools in Europe and Asia (225 and 655 species of Scolytinae, respectively) are much larger than numbers that have historically established (a total of 4 species in New Zealand and 48 species in the USA). Parameterisation of the model indicates a highly skewed species abundance distribution in the pathway, and this is confirmed by species frequencies in border interception records. This explains why only a small fraction of species have historically invaded. Forecasts from the model indicate that with increasing rates of imports, more species from these regions are likely to invade in the future, despite the depletion of the most abundant species from source species pools. Previous statistical models tend to underestimate future establishments in the presence of increasing import rates due to their failure to account for key underlying mechanisms. Furthermore, depletion of source species pools is unlikely to occur for a long time, because globalised trade provides access to new species pools in regions with previously limited trade.

R3: The importance of relevant research in managing biosecurity risk: What’s on our radar, how do they rank and what’s our return on investment?

Reed C, Ministry for Primary Industries

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is charged with overall leadership of the biosecurity system for New Zealand and has a substantial operational role. Interventions to reduce the likelihood of risk organisms entering and establishing are based on the best available science and risk assessment through analysing import pathways and the pest and disease impacts for our primary industries. These risks are considered, alongside those to our terrestrial, marine and freshwater environments, and risks of new vectors of human health concern. Science is critical to underpinning the risk frameworks we use and to supplying the organism information to populate our assessments. To be effective in managing biosecurity risk we need to be able to detect significant changes in risk profiles early: they must be on our radar. MPI has developed (with input from industry and researchers) an active and coordinated system for detecting, communicating and responding to new and emerging risks. New information reaches us all the time, and we have also developed a science- and risk-based organism ranking system to help prioritise our resources. The Centre for Excellence in Biosecurity Risk Analysis is currently supporting MPI to develop a framework that will overlay relative risks of biosecurity pests and diseases with the appropriate and most effective parts of the biosecurity system in which to manage them. This will allow us to communicate and model the relative return on investment across system layers and interventions. This presentation focuses on the three Rs as examples of the way in which a regulator uses science, and what success looks like to us in terms of our relationships with research providers.

Risk-based approach (R-bA) for regulation of high-risk Phytophthora species at the New Zealand border

Herath A, Hurr K, Malanchak A, Ministry for Primary Industries

Phytophthora species are among the most destructive pathogens of agricultural crops and forests in the world, and novel species are emerging. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MMPI) have identified 20 exotic species as potentially high risk for New Zealand, which could be introduced via nursery stock imports (NSI). MPI have developed a risk-based approach (RbA) in designing appropriate regulation at the border for these phytophthoras via NSI, utilising economic analysis and intelligence data. The level of economic impact of these phytophthoras has been assessed on forestry, horticulture and floriculture. This will be used to design regulatory measures at each impact level. Detection of latent infection by phytophthoras in symptomless nursery stock and detection in bulk consignments presents a challenge for risk management in post-entry quarantine (PEQ) in New Zealand. Effective diagnostics are required to screen nursery stock held in PEQ. MPI have researched diagnostic methods available for detecting phytophthoras in different plant tissues (i.e. baiting, strip-based immune assays and molecular techniques). MPI are collaborating with Scion and Plant & Food Research on operational research to elucidate the biosecurity risk of the in vitro import pathway. This research aims to study transmission of phytophthoras via tissue culture as latent infection, and explores the use of next generation sequencing technology for detection.

Te Tira Whakamātaki: Māori Biosecurity Network

Melanie Mark Shadbolt, Bio-Protection Research Centre, Lincoln University& Biological Heritage National Science Challenge, Landcare Research, New Zealand

Why do Māori researchers strongly encourage ‘Māori perspectives’ in New Zealand’s national science framework? Why do they insist that kaupapa Māori research is a viable methodology for conducting research, and why does the science system support this? Aside from meeting Treaty obligations, what benefit does all of this have for science and researchers?

With increasing numbers of biosecurity incursions threatening our taonga species, the need for Māori participation and solutions in the biosecurity system has never been greater. Yet often Māori wants and needs are ignored, lost or forgotten in what is a rapidly changing, crowded and confusing biosecurity system. Acknowledging the numerous issues relating to how to engage with Māori in this space, Te Turi Whakamātaki was created to solve the problem of how to engage with and ensure Māori are a vital part of New Zealand’s biosecurity system.

The establishment of a National Māori Biosecurity Network, Te Turi Whakamātaki, with a focus on the management of pre- and post-border biosecurity threats, is timely given the launch of New Zealand’s National Science Challenges and in particular the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge. The network is designed to bring together Māori involved in protecting our biological resources from biosecurity risks and threats, and it is intended that this network will be able to provide timely and accurate information to Māori communities (iwi, hapū, whānau), industry and agencies on biosecurity issues and Māori priorities.

Te Turi Whakamātaki held regional hui in 2016 and a small wānanga in 2017 (with another planned for June), has established an interim executive, and has released position statements on the recent myrtle rust incursion and the brown marmorated stink bug risk and possible solution. The network is also involved in Predator Free 2050 discussions, Biosecurity 2025 working and steering groups, co-hosting a session on ‘Myrtaceae plant health in the Pacific region’ with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and Island Arks Australia in Fiji later this year, and is participating in several research programmes. This kōrero will discuss network activities, research priorities and future plans, as well as engagement methods for working with Māori.