Biosecurity Act 1993

The purpose of the Biosecurity Act is to enable “exclusion, eradication, and effective management of pests and unwanted organisms”. The Act provides the framework for border controls aimed at preventing unwanted organisms from entering the country, for establishing surveillance to detect organisms once they have arrived, and for the control and eradication of pests once they have become established. The Biosecurity Act was amended to apply within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) by the Biosecurity Reform Act 2012.

Biosecurity functions are split between MPI, other government departments and regional councils. The MPI for Primary Industries oversees the implementation of the legislation, undertakes border control, manages national surveillance programmes, carries out responses to incursions and manages several national control programmes. Section 12A of the Act requires the Director-General to provide overall leadership in activities that “prevent, reduce, or eliminate adverse effects from harmful organisms that are present in New Zealand” through:

  • Promoting alignment of pest management within the whole biosecurity system
  • Overseeing pest management and measuring overall system performance
  • Facilitating the development and alignment of national pest management plans and national pathway management plans
  • Promoting public support for pest management
  • Facilitating communication, co-operation and co-ordination among those involved in pest management to enhance efficacy, efficiency and equity of programmes

The role of regional councils is to undertake monitoring and surveillance of established pests and to prepare and implement regional pest management strategies. At this point in time, only a few regional councils are actually actively monitoring and undertaking surveillance for marine pests. Regional councils are also required by the Biosecurity Act and the National Pest Management Plan of Action to provide leadership by promoting co-ordination of pest management between regions.

Part 3 of the Biosecurity Act deals with risks associated with the importation of goods and the entry of craft into New Zealand. A set of import health standards specify requirements to be met to manage risks associated with the importation of goods (discussed further below). These relate to the importing and exporting of plants, animals and other materials which may represent risk goods, including all products that are derived from plant or animal material.

The Biosecurity Act requires masters of craft arriving from overseas, to give notice of when and where they will enter New Zealand, so as to prevent uncleared goods leaving the vessel without authorisation from an inspector. The Biosecurity Standard “Requirements for Vessels Arriving in New Zealand” 2653  sets out additional rules.

Part 4 of the Biosecurity Act deals with surveillance and prevention and its purpose is “to provide for the continuous monitoring of New Zealand’s status in regard to pests and unwanted organisms”. Surveillance is essential for detecting pests and diseases before they become established in New Zealand. Early detection minimises the impacts of newly-introduced pests and diseases, and is especially important for marine pests and diseases, because the opportunity to respond and eradicate diminishes as more time elapses before they are detected.

Part 4 of the Act seeks to promote early detection through placing duties on all persons to  undertake timely reporting of organisms not normally seen in New Zealand. 2654  It also provides legal powers to enable MPI to gather information on organisms’ presence, to prevent them from spreading and to enable their identification. The MPI undertakes several national surveillance programmes to aid early detection.

Biological baseline surveys for non-indigenous marine species were completed at 16 major ports and marinas of international entry between 2001 and 2007. An additional eight secondary ports and pristine locations have also been surveyed. The MPI for Primary Industries now maintains a regular “targeted surveillance programme” which surveys 11 high risk locations biannually, in winter and summer, for a suite of target organisms. 

Pest management is dealt with under Part 5 of the Biosecurity Act and its purpose is “to provide for the eradication or effective management of harmful organisms that are present in New Zealand”. The Minister is currently developing a national policy direction to guide the implementation of these functions. Its purpose is to ensure that pest management activities provide the best use of available resources for New Zealand’s best interests. Part 5 of the Act sets out the process for the development of a range of different pest management plans. 

  1. http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/files/regs/ships/vessel-standard-current.pdf

  2. Biosecurity Act 1993, section 46

Last updated at 2:11PM on February 25, 2015