Operation Waiheke Media Advisory

11 May 2005

TIME 6:00pm

By mid-afternoon today, MAF officials had contacted 30 Waiheke Island farmers, but were still unable to reach the owners of nine small farms. Any Waiheke farmers who have not spoken to MAF officials are asked to contact MAF on 0800 80 99 66.

A public meeting about the claimed release of foot and mouth disease on Waiheke Island will be held at the Ostend War Memorial Hall at 7 pm this evening to provide local residents with information about the actions being taken. It will be chaired by Ray Erickson (chair of the Waiheke Community Board) with MAF, Police, farmer representatives and other technical people on hand to provide information.

MAF Director of Biosecurity, Barry O'Neil, reiterated that the measures being put in place are appropriate and proportionate to the risk, given the current situation. People and pets are not a significant risk. Spread of the virus from street clothing and cats and dogs is most unlikely and controls on people or domestic pets are not considered necessary at this time. Only ruminant animals, pigs and associated animal products and equipment, such as those listed in the Controlled Area notice (attached) pose a risk.

MAF has stressed that foot and mouth disease virus does not pose a public health risk and nor is it a food safety concern.

A measured response has been received from trading partners, with most keeping a watching brief. Overseas markets have expressed confidence in the precautionary measures being taken by MAF and NZFSA.

NZFSA Executive Director, Andrew McKenzie, said there have been few implications for New Zealand exports. "Virtually all of the countries we have contacted have been supportive of our approach to the threat and we thank them for that. Only Mexico has placed restrictions on New Zealand exports and is checking these on arrival on a case by case basis. It is clear that our trading partners understand that this is probably a hoax, and it is gratifying that they are continuing to support us."

MAF is also working closely with the New Zealand Veterinary Association, Federated Farmers and other key industry organisations to provide information and ensure farmers' concerns are addressed.

Any farmers outside the controlled area who have concerns about the health of their livestock should contact their vet. Farmers on Waiheke Island should call 0800 80 99 66.

MAF has again stressed that this situation is believed to be a hoax and would like to emphasise that the penalties for this sort of activity are harsh. Foot and Mouth Disease is an unwanted organism under the Biosecurity Act 1993. Anyone convicted of spreading it faces a penalty of up to five years' imprisonment or a fine up to $100,000. Under the Crimes Act anyone convicted of threatening to commit a crime that would cause major damage to the economy can be sentenced to seven years jail. Section 298A stipulates that anyone causing disease or sickness to animals can be sentenced to up to ten years in jail.

Anyone with information on the claimed release should contact their local police station. Given the resources that must be deployed, both MAF and Police are appealing for anyone with information to come forward immediately.

A copy of the Controlled Area notice which became effective at 5pm last night is attached for your information.

MAF investigates approximately 20 cases of suspected foot and mouth disease each year. An exotic disease response is not activated until a case of foot and mouth has been identified. Farmers outside the controlled area who have concerns about the health of their livestock should contact their vet. Farmers on Waiheke Island should call 0800 80 99 66.

The direct actions MAF has taken relate specifically to Waiheke Island and to raising awareness of the disease with farmers and vets throughout the country. Advertisements are planned for local and national newspapers and radio to advise farmers what to look out for and what to do. MAF is also working closely with key industry organisations to ensure farmers' concerns are addressed.

The next press conference will be held at MAF, 101-103 The Terrace, at 11.30 am on Thursday 12 May 2005.

For further information, contact:
Brett Sangster, Director Communications 027 247 8777
Tina Nixon, Waiheke Island media contact 027 223 2789
Philippa White, Waiheke Island media contact 021 385 133

Further information can be found on the MAF website, www.maf.govt.nz/mafnet/press/operation-waiheke and http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/pests/foot-and-mouth .

Controlled Area Notice under the Biosecurity Act 1993

Section 131 - Controlled Area, Movement Controls and Procedures in Respect of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) - Waiheke Island and Surrounding Area

The area of land of the island in the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand known as Waiheke Island and all small islands and sea contained within 500 metres from the Waiheke Island low water mark is declared a controlled area to limit any potential spread of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) - an unwanted organism under the Biosecurity Act 1993. This Notice takes effect at 17:00 from 10 May 2005 until further notice.

Notice of Movement Controls

Under section 131(3)(a) of the Biosecurity Act 1993, movement of the following animals and items which might potentially spread FMD is PROHIBITED into, out or inside the Controlled Area, whether domestic or feral animals and whether live, dead or genetic material.

This includes:

  • Pigs (all members of family Suidae)
  • Camels, dromedaries, llamas, vicunas, alpacas (all members of family Camelidae)
  • Cattle, sheep, goats, zebus, buffaloes, yaks (all members of family Bovidae)
  • Deer (all members of family Cervidae)
  • Any soil, hay, animal feeds, equipment, utensils, effluent, conveyances, vehicles, waste, or rejected matter, or other goods that may have been in contact with any animal described above
  • Any clothing and/or footwear worn while working with any animal described in a) above.

Notice of Compulsory Treatment and Procedures

  • Under section 131(3)(b) of the Biosecurity Act 1993, all risk organisms, organic material, risk goods, or other goods within the Controlled Area must be subject to such treatment and procedures
  • Animal products (meat, milk, by-products) from animals listed above that are intended to be fed to pigs in the Controlled Area must be treated to inactivate FMD virus by cooking or pasteurisation.

Any person who wishes to obtain the permission of an inspector or authorised person to carry out a movement that would otherwise be prohibited or to obtain an exemption from an inspector or authorised person should call 0800 80 99 66.

NOTES TO REPORTERS:

  • Domestic pets such as cats and dogs, or any other animal not listed above are not a risk of spreading FMD or of spreading it.
  • Any parts of any animal for use as food can be moved into and inside the Controlled Area, but NOT out of it. This is to allow the continued provision of foodstuffs for residents in the Controlled Area. FMD presents no risk to humans.

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Last Updated: 27 September 2010

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