Advanced Search | Help
11 May 2005
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
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,
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.
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.
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.