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Published: 2004-07-15 00:00:00

Environment Waikato wants MAF to reconsider using Regional Pest Management Strategies to manage a pig disease infecting New Zealand piggeries.

The disease, post weaning multi-systemic wasting syndrome (PMWS), is believed to have been introduced to New Zealand through infected pig meat, as it is common in most overseas pig exporting companies. No clinical diagnostic test has yet been developed to identify the syndrome, which causes wasting and deaths in piglets.

MAF had refused to treat PMWS as an incursion of an unwanted organism as it believed it was not feasible to eradicate it. It had instead placed Restricted Place notices on infected or suspect piggeries - about 24 in Northland, Auckland, Waikato and Taranaki. The proposal would only apply to farms in these areas.

The New Zealand Pork Industry Board had been forced by MAF to undertake eradication or management of the disease, using pest management strategies. Environment Waikato staff felt this would be a cumbersome mechanism and would involve the Council in a consultative and approval process that would incur unnecessary costs and statutory time lines.

Biosecurity Group Manager John Simmons said the costs of the process were likely to be between $30,000 to $100,000. The Industry Board is polling its members about the proposal and required 75 percent approval before going ahead.

The Council had written to the Ministry expressing its concerns that the method was not appropriate, and asked MAF to reconsider use of regulations under the Biosecurity Act to deal with the disease.

Cr Jenni Vernon said the issue was not one for a regional council to deal with.

“This is a classic case of passing the buck. There is no way the Council should be asked to bear the cost of preparing a new regional pest management strategy.

The Committee recommended reiterating concern to MAF that the RPMS process was inappropriate for an incursion response, and as it was likely to develop into a national issue for the pork industry MAF should demonstrate leadership.