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25 May 2005
Operation Waiheke, MAF's response to the claimed release of Foot and
Mouth disease on Waiheke Island officially ended on Monday.
MAF Acting Director of Biosecurity Douglas Birnie said MAF was already
facing a bill of around $1.5 million to $2 million from the episode and
this excluded lost staff time, any of the costs incurred by the other
organisations involved, and compensation costs to farmers.
"Compensation payments to farmers have yet to be received and
considered. We hope to process them as quickly as possible, but it will
take a little time," said Mr Birnie.
Monday marked 14 days since the receipt of a letter by the Prime
Minister's office claiming that Foot and Mouth Disease had been released
on the island, sparking a Government-wide response involving MAF, the New
Zealand Food Safety Authority, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade,
and the New Zealand Police. The 14-day response was dictated by the
maximum incubation period of foot and mouth before clinical symptoms
become apparent, and by trading regulations.
The response was scaled back last Monday after the receipt of a second
letter by the Dominion Post newspaper confirming the claimed release was a
hoax. Police are satisfied that both letters were written by the same
Movement controls were lifted after the receipt of the second letter,
but about 10 staff were left on the island to address any concerns farmers
or residents may have had. They were officially stood down on Monday. At
its height, Operation Waiheke directly involved more than 100 MAF/Food
Safety staff – 60 at MAF and the New Zealand Food Safety Authority in
Wellington, 20 at the Exotic Disease Response Centre, and 31 on the Field
Operations Response Team in Auckland and on Waiheke Island plus staff from
MFAT, the Police and other organisations.
Media contact: Tina Nixon Communication Adviser Biosecurity New Zealand
027 223 2789 firstname.lastname@example.org