Mark Patterson, Spokesperson for Primary Industries
New Zealand First spokesperson for Primary Industries, Mark Patterson, has called for awareness to be raised and more stringent biosecurity checks to be put in place for African Swine Fever (ASF), a widespread virus that is uncontrolled in most of Asia and a serious issue in Europe.
Pork imports are increasing in New Zealand. Upwards of 60 per cent of all pork is imported.
The value of the domestic pork industry (including primary and secondary processing including from imported pork) is estimated to be in the region of $750 million.
“We need to make sure our border agencies are sufficiently resourced to ensure this doesn’t become a problem for New Zealand,” says Mr Patterson.
“We cannot put our local industry at risk. ASF has no vaccine and no cure,” Mr Patterson added.
The virus spreads between pigs and infected pork products. It also can be transmitted in ‘fomites’ – and therefore on boots and transport.
“With the widespread infection in Asia where many travellers and returning workers come from, we need an extra layer of scrutiny,” says Mr Patterson.
“We’ve seen this before with Velvet Leaf, one of the world’s worst pest plants.
“It was spread around New Zealand because of our risky imports of maize from affected countries which continued after the first alerts. We cannot afford to be complacent.
“Protecting New Zealand from unwanted pests and diseases, including African Swine Fever, is our number one priority,” says Mr Patterson.
Key points to better protect New Zealand from ASF:
1) At the border - Stop it entering NZ:
-Enhanced awareness (signs etc.) at all international airports.
-No pork products can be brought into NZ by travellers.
-Greater vigilance that there are no pork products (including no cured / processed pork products) at all in luggage.
-Batch testing of pork imports at the ports.
2) Within NZ stop ASF getting to NZ pigs:
-Raise awareness of the risk among commercial and non-commercial pig owners.
-Emphasise “no feeding of any pig meat products to pigs” to commercial and non-commercial owners.
3) Work urgently on enhancing NZ’s ability to respond quickly if it is identified in NZ
-Continue to commit MPI resources to speed up the completion of an ASF response plan.