New biosecurity intelligence unit launched

New Zealand’s Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor said the Ministry for Primary Industry's new bisecurity business unit would shift the public focus back onto what the top priority of preventing and predicting pest and disease breaches.

With climate change challenges and increasing global trade and tourism constantly threatening New Zealand's borders, the Ministry for Primary Industries has unveiled its new future-focused biosecurity intelligence squad.

Launched on Monday, the standalone early warning squad is still in development but will work closely with its Australian counterparts to gather offshore risk intelligence. Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor said intelligence would be shared with both Australia and industry sectors.

The intel unit was revealed as part of a the launch of Biosecurity New Zealand – one of four new business units created within the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), along with Fisheries New Zealand, Forestry New Zealand and New Zealand Food Safety, all of which will launch in May.

O'Connor said the intelligence unit would use smarter technology and skilled analysts to source and look at all available information on overseas pest and diseases.

"Earlier signals of biosecurity threats will help our border staff to make better decisions to target air passengers and cargo that are most likely to carry risk goods, as well as those who deliberately flout New Zealand's biosecurity rules."

"Pest incursions and disease outbreaks threaten our biodiversity. With increasing pressures such as the growing scale of trade, more visitors from abroad and climate change challenges, we need a greater focus on biosecurity."

Setting up the four units cost NZ$6.8 million, with operating costs of NZ$2.3m a year, and was funded through reprioritised spending within MPI at no extra cost to the taxpayer, O'Connor said.


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