MAF on front foot with new moth response

10 September 2002

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has announced a start date for the expanded aerial operation to wipe out the painted apple moth.

MAF has also defined the new vegetation control zone to limit the spread of the pest and boosted its response team to manage the expanded operation.

Yesterday Cabinet decided to pursue eradication of the painted apple moth.

The first aerial operation in the expanded zone, which will affect about 40,000 properties, is scheduled for Monday 14 October - weather permitting.

The expanded area covers Auckland and Waitakere city suburbs from Massey to Pt Chevalier and Henderson Valley to New Lynn/Mt Albert.

A mix of aircraft will be used including a Fokker Friendship, a smaller fixed-wing aircraft and a helicopter. In ideal conditions the operation could be over in one day but two days is more likely.

Painted Apple Moth Project Director, Ian Gear of MAF Biosecurity, said the operation would involve aerial spraying a core area of some 8,000 hectares with an option to extend up to 12,000 for "hot spots" if the pest spreads. A 21-day operational cycle is planned at this stage.

MAF has appointed an experienced project team to manage the extended operation and it will set up new headquarters in Lynfield, west Auckland.

Ian Gear said his team was confident it could manage the project and get rid of the pest.

He said Cabinet's decision gives sufficient resources and more flexibililty which will allow the team to take fast action. "We know much more about the pest and we have made big strides forward with the programme to date, which has dramatically reduced the moth numbers. It puts us in good shape for the future.''

For more information please contact:

Hans Verberne, General Manager Biosecurity Services - 021 194 2522 
Ian Gear, Painted Apple Moth Project Director - 025 223 1748
Mary-Ann Crawford. Painted Apple Moth communications facilitator - 021 648 117

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