Varroa Management Plan Progressed

20 September 2000

A meeting today in Wellington attended by beekeeper, stakeholder and MAF Biosecurity Authority representatives made progress in finalising the two-year transitional Government-supported management plan for varroa. MAF convened the meeting as a further means of consulting industry, following on from the series of regional meetings last month.

MAF will work on recommendations from the meeting to refine the proposed two-year management plan, to be presented by late October to Cabinet for its consideration. Final decisions on this programme will be subject to available resources and be based on a cost-benefit analysis. The programme is designed to ensure the South Island remains free of varroa for as long as realistically possible and minimise the impact of varroa and associated regulatory controls for beekeepers in the North Island.

Further work will be done on recommendations from a recent Federated Farmers mediation process involving North Island beekeepers. These included the short-term use of prophylactic, or preventative, treatment of hives in pollination in the upper North Island. Variations on the boundary between the infected upper North Island and the uninfected lower North Island will be considered.

NBA will consider recommending to all beekeepers the covering of all hive loads being transported to reduce the potential spread of infested bees.

The meeting proposed an independent review process for the active surveillance plan for the South Island.

A major aim of Phase II will be to minimise the risk of transfer of varroa to the South Island. A campaign will raise the profile of the varroa and movement controls at the Cook Strait ferry terminals, and an analysis will be made of potential means of varroa being introduced to the South Island.

On 12 July 2000, Cabinet agreed to a three-stage Government response to the incursion of Varroa destructor (varroa). The first stage of this response is virtually complete. It involves immediate assisted treatment of infected hives with approved products at the Crown's expense, upon consent of the beekeeper. Today's meeting was working on finalising the blueprint for the second stage of the response.

Arrangements for the long-term management of varroa will be considered over the next two years using the framework for pest management provided by the Biosecurity Act 1993.

A programme co-ordinator has been employed within MAF to facilitate the development of a national pest management strategy (NPMS). This may or may not result in a decision to proceed with a NPMS.

For further information contact:

John Hayes, Communications Adviser, MAF. 04-4744-268

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