South Island Varroa Surveillance Programme begins

15 September 2000

Next week approximately 50 South Island beekeepers will converge on Christchurch to take part in a three-day training and field exercise that effectively marks the beginning of the South Island Varroa Surveillance Programme. AgriQuality New Zealand and with MAF Biosecurity Authority staff will also be attending.

"This exercise had been planned for some time to ensure beekeepers have the appropriate skills to respond effectively to exotic disease situations," says MAF Programme Co-ordinator Matthew Stone. "To maintain an appropriate level preparedness, the response team meets annually for a three to four day disease outbreak simulation."

"The opportunity has been taken to tie in this regular exercise with Varroa surveillance. Beginning field activities in the Canterbury area will result in a realistic scenario. It means we are marking a start on the Varroa Management Plan Phase II objectives of verifying the South Island is free from the mite, and beginning the surveillance required to provide an early warning of any incursion. The method used in the North Island - Apistan diagnostic strips and sticky boards - will also be employed in the South Island."

The programme has beekeepers training all day Tuesday to become Authorised Persons under the Biosecurity Act, so they can take part in ongoing surveillance activities. On Wednesday and Thursday, field surveillance will be carried out in the Canterbury area. On Friday the programme will involve data entry from field activities and dispatching of sticky boards and samples to the laboratory.

A media conference will be held at the Russley Hotel at 11am on Tuesday. Advice regarding field footage opportunities on Weds and Thurs will be given at that conference.

Contacts:

Matthew Stone, Programme Co-ordinator Exotic Disease Response, MAF Biosecurity Authority. 025-332-509, N/A84.
John Hayes, Communications Adviser, MAF Communications. 04-4744-268

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