MPI’s biosecurity response to golden clams found severely lacking

30 August 2023

MPI’s biosecurity response to golden clams found severely lacking

MPI has badly let down residents, river users and mana whenua of the Waikato region with its slow, lacklustre response to the golden clam incursion, and a national management plan is needed urgently National’s Biosecurity spokesperson Nicola Grigg says.

Following a joint inquiry conducted by members of the Primary Production and Environment select committees, a report to parliament is recommending that the Government gives urgent consideration to developing a national surveillance system and increasing the resources devoted to management and control of golden clams.

“Although the highly invasive aquatic pest has been declared an ‘unwanted organism’ there is little systemised – or regulatory – infrastructure available for stakeholders on the ground to deal with it. It reproduces at a significant rate of around 400 offspring per day and is already putting infrastructure and biodiversity at risk in the Waikato – with every chance it could already be in other waterways around the country.

“Regional Councils have expressed their frustrations at the slow and disjointed communication from MPI officials and are – rightly – angry that they were not able to take early action, instead of being hampered by non-disclosure agreements.

“A further recommendation made to the Government is that MPI review and improve communication to partners and stakeholders in light of the criticism of stakeholders.

“The delays in the biosecurity response are not good enough and need to be addressed urgently as other important waterways may be at risk. We do not have the luxury of being flippant with biosecurity responses when our economy and livelihoods depend on our waterways.

“As members of the Waikato River Authority said ‘we can’t imagine a greater threat at this moment to the Waikato River’ and I urge MPI to better integrate its response with that group – and any other with rights and interests in the water ways across the region.

“It's beggars belief that officials have so far told the select committee that there is no known eradication method. The committee is pushing MPI to relook at eradication as an option and, as National’s spokesperson for biosecurity, I wholeheartedly endorse that,” Ms Grigg says.

Note to editors: the Committee’s report on its briefing into golden clam incursion in the Waikato has now been presented and published online. It can be found at the following link: Briefing into golden clam incursion in the Waikato.