Kapiti Environment: New law changes are expected to boost biosecurity. Photo of Kapiti Island by Karl Webber.
With Biosecurity a huge issue for the Kapiti Coast, and Kapiti Island in particular, the latest announcement of strengthened law changes is likely to be welcomed by many involved in protecting our natural environment.
Last week Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor unveiled major changes to New Zealand's biosecurity system, including new law changes to strengthen animal tracing and details of a Biosecurity Act overhaul.
Mr O'Connor says Biosecurity is fundamental to the protection of our environment, our economy and our cultural and social wellbeing.
"I'm having both the Biosecurity Act and the National Animal Identification and Tracing Act (NAIT) overhauled to ensure they meet our future needs.
"The Biosecurity Act is now 26 years old. We're operating in a different world than we were in 1993. Tourism, imports and the rise of online shopping have meant a corresponding increase in biosecurity risk.
"Over the last few years there has been an increase in large biosecurity responses including Mycoplasma bovis, Bonamia, Myrtle Rust and Queensland Fruit Fly.
Mr O'Connor says as the climate warms we face a greater threat from exotic insects and pests to our primary industries.
"Today I have released the terms of reference that define the objectives and structure of the Biosecurity Act's overhaul. The work will be led by Biosecurity New Zealand. They have started working with Māori, industry, and others to upgrade the Act. We will look at every aspect of the Act including compensation and funding.
"The Mycoplasma bovis outbreak is the single biggest biosecurity event New Zealand has faced and it highlighted flaws in the NAIT scheme and Biosecurity Act. We're putting that right", Minister O'Connor says.
"We need to learn from the bovis experience and have better pieces of legislation as a result of it.
"I have been working with Biosecurity New Zealand and NAIT Limited, which manages the NAIT scheme, to fix it and make sure it is fit for the future.
"Earlier this year I announced a package of suggested changes to NAIT and Cabinet has now agreed to them.