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Bay business leaders highlight key biosecurity risks

Highlighting practical and identifiable risks for the region’s freight logistics sector was the focus of briefings to the Bay of Connections Freight Logistics Action Group (FLAG) this week. The group includes road and rail freight owners and operators, planners and representatives of service and support industries.

Key staff from the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), Kiwifruit Vine Health and biosecurity operations consultants were all involved in a briefing on the biosecurity risks that could potentially hit both growth, and day-to-day business operations, if they were ignored.

“Transport and logistics is a vital link for the vast majority of primary industry export goods that leave the Port of Tauranga annually, however, our region’s freight movements could be constrained or curtailed completely should a major incursion, such as the Queensland fruit fly, be found in or around the Mount Maunganui area,” says FLAG co-ordinator, John Galbraith.

“It’s critical that the Bay of Plenty’s freight and logistics industry acts ahead of any biosecurity incursion in order to minimise the impact on their operations, protect their future business growth prospects and minimise the impact on the wider economy,” says Mr Galbraith.

Andrew Harrison from Kiwifruit Vine Health outlined real-life examples from the kiwifruit industry’s Psa crisis, including how the issue affected a wide range of associated businesses outside the immediate industry.

“Andrew provided some important insights to this crisis, particularly in relation to the wider impacts, which came as a surprise to many members of FLAG.”

Forestry biosecurity analyst Bill Dyck also briefed action group members about the potential negative impact on log truck and rail movements if a bug or beetle incursion stopped New Zealand forest growers from exporting for any length of time. He relayed experiences from Chile’s forest industry which had to deal with import bans by a number of Asian countries, which had a significant adverse impact on freight and logistics service providers to the forestry sector there.

“A potential biosecurity incursion could have a significant impact on the freight logistics sector, the wider economy, and the communities in which these companies work and live. It is up to us all to take precautions and put the planning in place in order to minimise the risks as much as possible,” says Mr Galbraith.

He says the key messages from the briefing were for companies to ensure they understand the MPI incursion procedures for imported pest emergencies; undertake scenario planning to minimize the impact of an incursion; create pest awareness identification procedures amongst employees and the port community; and ensure contingency plans are in place if all freight movements were restricted due to a biosecurity emergency.

“One of the objectives of the Bay of Connections Freight Logistics Strategy is to help support its members with access to information and advice, to catalyse growth and support day-to-day operations. A pooling of resources and a greater awareness of the benefits of sharing information is required for the industry to grow.

“The supply chain works across regional boundaries, meaning it is essential to work with key agencies and neighbouring regions, central government, industry organisations, and key producers and importers, through collaboration and partnership. That way we can create world-class freight logistics within the Bay of Plenty region.”

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Friday, September 18, 2015

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