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How prepared are you? | Biosecurity Response Workshop

MPI’s experiential biosecurity response workshop part of the NZPPI conference held in Auckland in May 2023. The workshop was attended by Dominic and Darryn from SPS Biota team surveillance who gave audience to the presentations and participated in the interactive workshop.

Vinni Pather, a member of the MPI Biosecurity response readiness team (a familiar face for SPS staff and previously a member of the Incursion and Investigation team) led a presentation on current MPI biosecurity programmes, (which SPS is involved with) and also outlined the structure of how a response develops after notification of a significant pest or disease. Vinni also fielded some tough questions from the group including from Dom who enquired about the requirements of confidentially in the event of an incursion.

A work-shop scenario was then presented, and questions were asked to encourage discussion amongst the individual tables. The scenario simulated an incursion of the invasive bacteria plant disease Xylella fastidiosa into a plant nursery. The questions encouraged the groups to discuss how this discovery would likely affect the day-to-day operation, of the nursery, eg staff and production impacts even including potential personal effects. Another question asked how they as the owner could contribute in assisting the response for example by good record keeping and sharing information for tracing purposes.

Nursery owners in the group SPS was part of quickly began by explaining how they have been affected by Myrtle rust and the questions were answered with more focus on their personal experiences with the invasive fungus.

A discussion was then lead for the whole group around the questions highlighting that in these sorts of circumstances there can be more questions generated than answers.

The group then heard from an Auckland Council representative who outlined the Plant buyers accord action plan.

Plant pass registration was encouraged being the joint venture between the government and industry to provide growers with a voluntary certification scheme to improve biosecurity practices in the plant production industry. A recently certified nursery owner shared that after completion he feels many times more confident and ready in the event of an incursion.  

After the workshop there was opportunity to communicate with some of the presenters and plant growers around some light refreshments (including the ever-popular gluten free cake). It was also hard to walk past some of the displays, especially the Aerolab stand which was showcasing their ultra high capacity spray drone and other automated spray technology. 

- Darryn Horrell, Biosecurity Advisor