Dealing with threats and incursions
We're always ready to respond to an exotic pest or disease. In most cases, we're notified when someone calls the Exotic Pest and Disease Hotline (0800 80 99 66). We also run surveillance programmes to try to catch them early.
Find out more about our surveillance programmes
When we find a pest or disease, we investigate it, assess the risk and then decide how best to respond.
That usually involves forming a response team to manage and monitor activities. Biosecurity New Zealand has guidelines and protocols in place so that response teams know what they have to do. Those guidelines and protocols are part of the Coordinated Incident Management System we use for responses.
Biosecurity response guide
We've designed this guide to set out how biosecurity responses work and the roles that government, industry, service providers, community stakeholders, and other New Zealanders play.
New Zealand Government Biosecurity Response Guide [PDF, 2.6 MB]
Setting up a response
We set up a response team when a situation demands coordination across MPI or other government agencies or local councils.
For example, with the Wairarapa pea weevil response in 2016, we had to coordinate our actions to eradicate the pest. We coordinated:
- field operations
- liaison and public communications.
These activities are easier to manage within a response team structure. Teams include:
- an incident controller
- a response manager
- function managers, who look after certain parts of the response.
Making decisions during a response
We make decisions according to an agreed decisions' framework in a timely manner, taking into account the best available scientific data and other information. We also recognise that uncertainty should not delay action.
The GIA deed
MPI is the government's party to the Government Industry Agreement on Biosecurity Readiness and Response (GIA). Under the GIA deed, there is joint decision-making with member primary industry organisations on whether a response is needed.
Working with private veterinarians
Veterinarians are key to:
- early detection of exotic disease outbreaks in the national herd
- assessing and addressing trends in endemic disease prevalence.
Veterinarians in private practice are an essential element of New Zealand's biosecurity system. As trusted animal health professionals, they have invaluable skills for helping the country successfully manage any national disease response.
Veterinarians can build on their existing relationships with farmers – as well as their in-depth knowledge of the local animal health landscape – to enhance the government's ability to implement the necessary control measures in an effective and empathetic manner. MPI works closely with the Veterinary Council New Zealand, the New Zealand Veterinary Association, and Massey University School of Veterinary Science – Tāwharau Ora on matters that affect all of New Zealand's veterinarians.
Read about Biosecurity New Zealand’s plans to engage private veterinarians in biosecurity responses [PDF, 1.7 MB]
It's not just pests and diseases
Not all responses are related to biosecurity issues like pests and diseases. We might also form response teams if there is:
- a significant food safety problem
- a trade issue
- an adverse event like a flood or drought.
Who we work with on responses
Who we work with on a response depends on the pest, disease or issue we're dealing with.
With the 2016 discovery of pea weevils in the Wairarapa, we worked with local growers to put a 2-year ban on growing peas in place. We also worked with AsureQuality to manage permits for moving material.
In the event of a more serious threat, like foot-and-mouth disease, we would work with government agencies, farmers, and industry to manage the outbreak.
Always fine-tuning our systems
We're always working to improve our response capabilities, including:
- how we communicate
- the data we have access to during a response
- stakeholder and industry relationships
- recovery operations.
In 2012, we led Exercise Taurus, a simulated biosecurity response to foot-and-mouth disease. This whole-of-government exercise allowed us to review how we respond and how we work with other agencies. We identified a number of areas for improvement, including the key features of a foot-and-mouth disease response.
By continuously improving how we respond, we can better manage a pest or disease outbreak in New Zealand.
Who to contact
If you have questions about the information on this page, email firstname.lastname@example.org