Future of Pest Management proposed national plan of action 2010-2035 - NZCA submission
IntroductionSubmitted 23 July 2010: The NZCA supports the general thrust of the Proposed Plan of Action, especially proposals to clarify roles and responsibilities, amend the purpose of the Biosecurity Act, provide powers to control internal vectors and pathways, and to extend national pest management programmes.
Submission date: 23 July 2010
Submitted to: Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
The NZCA is a statutory body established by section 6A of the Conservation Act 1987. Members are appointed by the Minister of Conservation on the nomination or recommendation of four specified bodies (four members), after consultation with three specified Ministers of the Crown (five members), and after the receipt of public nominations (four members). This process ensures that a wide range of perspectives contribute to the advice provided and decisions made by the NZCA. The functions of the NZCA are centred on policy and planning which impacts on the administration of conservation areas managed by the Department of Conservation, and the investigation of any conservation matter it considers is of national importance. The NZCA has the authority to advocate its interests at any public forum and in any statutory planning process.
The Authority supports the general thrust of the Proposed Plan of Action, especially proposals to clarify roles and responsibilities, amend the purpose of the Biosecurity Act, provide powers to control internal vectors and pathways, and to extend national pest management programmes.
1.1 Purpose of pest management
The NZCA supports a clear statutory purpose for pest management as being of paramount importance. It should refer specifically to the protection of (amongst other things) of New Zealand’s indigenous biodiversity. The generic ‘environmental outcomes’ is not adequate in this context, unless “environment” is defined to include indigenous biodiversity.
1.2 Crown as a “good neighbour”
Whilst this is accepted, it raises the issue of funding. For the NZCA, this is confined to consideration of how the Crown’s responsibilities are to be funded. The Authority’s view is that where the Department of Conservation, as the nation’s largest land manager, is to be financially bound under the “good neighbour” concept to control pests such as possums and gorse which occur along its boundaries, but would not otherwise be a priority for scarce conservation funding, this should be funded through Vote Biosecurity. It should not be expected to come from baseline funding.
Question 1(a) Outcomes and Principles
The Outcomes are accepted as general objectives. How they are translated into practice and integrated by the various agencies implies the need for an additional task in the Action Plan.
These are generally accepted. However, for the Process of decision-making, in addition to Principle 6 “The decision-making process will include those whose accountabilities are affected”, there should also be a principle that those affected by a decision should be involved in an appropriate and timely way (i.e. the community of interest potentially affected from bullet 2 on p18).
Under ‘Effectiveness’, Principle 10 Transitions, as currently worded, implies that transitions will universally occur. This will not always be the case therefore Principle 10 should be worded to read “Any transitions of responsibility will occur in a way to ensure pests are managed effectively through the transition period”.
The four bullets on p18 (Objectives, impacts, incentives to act and who holds the requisite powers) should be incorporated into the Principles in Table 2 on p12. Objectives are subsumed in principles 1 and 2. Impacts are part of the additional Principle proposed above, Incentives to Act is subsumed in principle 6, and Powers in Principles 5 and 6. This would streamline the Plan of Action, give greater focus and avoid duplication.
Question 1 (b) Key characteristics
The key characteristics appear reasonable.
Roles and Accountabilities
On p16 bullet 4 refers to clarifying roles for the marine environment. The failure to address role anomalies in the freshwater area, where species of fish which are conservation pests are allowed to be released or harvested, is a defect of this programme. Better integration is needed with the Fisheries Act and Resource Management Act. It is also not clear who is responsible for decision-making for freshwater biosecurity.
Question 2 (a) High level pest management functions for MAF and regional councils
Function (b) should explicitly refer to review, following measurement of performance.
Two additional functions include
(i) Co-ordination of the toolbox
(ii) Regulation where necessary for effectiveness and efficiency to achieve (d), national pest and pathway programmes
Regional councils should also be specifically given a regulatory function.
Question 2 (b) Roles in the marine environment p19-20
The default allocation appears reasonable on the face of it. However agencies other than MAF need to have the necessary powers and resources for the roles they are allocated e.g. to control vectors and pathways. Where a risk assessment shows that a previous assessment under-estimated risk, Vote: Biosecurity should be extended, to resource agencies other than MAF to manage such risks i.e. where new information has come to light.
Question 2 (c) Minister’s Role
It is logical that the Minister take responsibility for assigning roles where they are unclear. However any legislation should include a process within which this is to occur, including timeframes, and criteria for selection of advisors. Advisors should include both experts and representatives of the agencies concerned.
Question 2 (d) Establishment of a Maori Advisory Committee
A Maori advisory committee is supported. It’s primary role should be to advise on Maori cultural values and how they can best be recognised in the pest management process.
At the same time, providing a statutory basis and transparent composition of the current Ministerial Advisory Committee should also be addressed, with its functions being specified. The NZCA model could be considered.
The importance of scientific and technical expertise cannot be over-emphasized. A panel of experts in terrestrial, freshwater, marine, health, biodiversity, and primary production should be able to report directly to the Minister on strategic interventions.
Question 2 (e) Review of legislation
The implications for conservation of a comprehensive review of legislation currently administered by the Department of Conservation (Wildlife Act and Wild Animal Control Act) are complex and unclear. As pointed out in the draft plan, pest management decisions by other agencies, especially the Department of Conservation, could be compromised.
A thorough and objective analysis of the implications of removing pests such as possums and wallabies from the Wild Animal Control Act is essential. Aspects of management of pest species such as control of animals being kept in captivity, the export of pest species, and the like, require careful consideration. It will be important to ensure that the Department of Conservation’s powers to control conservation pests on public conservation lands and waters is not impeded, and consideration given to the opportunity of increasing those powers. This aspect overlaps with the “good neighbour” principle, which is a two-way consideration.
Underlying such a review is the current climate of robust advocacy from recreational interests for the protection of sport species such as trout and deer, which are significant conservation pests. There is a fundamental conflict of values that should be factored into such a review. Similar conflicts occur where species with commercial values become pests when released beyond the production environment e.g wilding pines or species farmed by aquaculture.
Given the functions of New Zealand Conservation Authority (section 6B of the Conservation Act), including its statutory functions of approving conservation management strategies and national park management plans, the Authority requests that it be involved in the oversight of this review.
Improved and Simplified Processes
Question 3 (a) Proposed changes to make pest management strategies more flexible
Many of the proposed changes are sensible and positive, and the Authority’s experience with conservation management planning suggests that partial reviews should be provided for. However the Authority, as a public body constituted to represent a range of the public interest in conservation, cautions against unreasonable gate-keeping of public consultation and participation. As mentioned elsewhere, where pest management strategies involve public resources, or affect public lands and waters, the public interest must be reflected in process and outcomes.
The Authority considers that deciding not to hold a public inquiry unless there is a significant body of people opposing the strategy, is a dangerous precedent. This is not to say that matters considered to be minor (and defined as such) do not require a public process. There are equivalent parallels in non-notified resource consents and concession applications, and the NZCA would support such exceptions being provided for in legislation.
Question 3 (b) Regulation of risk goods and craft
The NZCA wholeheartedly supports this change which will fill a significant gap in the biosecurity system. Legislative change should allow for any risk pathway to be controlled, should that be required. The test should be the same as for any other intervention.
Question 3 (c) Changes to the Wild Animal Control Act and Wildlife Act
See question 2 (e) above. The Authority agrees that the WACA has unnecessarily constrained regional pest management strategies for a range of wild animals. The most important issue is to ensure that pest control outcomes are the paramount driver.
Removing controls of injurious birds on Schedule 5 from part IV of the Wildlife Act is supported. However the Wildlife Act or any successor to that Act, should still apply for any authorisation to kill indigenous birds (or any other native animal) .
Question 3 (d) National Policy Direction
The emphasis on this is supported. However it is not clear whether the policy formulation process will have a statutory basis. This is recommended for fairness, transparency and accountability. In terms of alignment with national policy direction, it is suggested that thought should be given to using the phrase in the RMA “not inconsistent with” rather than “aligned”.
Note that agencies such as body corporates should only be subject to the Ombudsman Act where they exercise statutory powers affecting the public.
There is no mention in the document of the responsibility of exacerbators when considering the responsibility for funding. It is considered that joint programmes should also include a contribution from any identified exacerbator. A contingency fund to eradicate new pests could be created if the power to levy importers was provided for in legislative amendments.
Better and More Accessible Tools
Question 4 (a) Establishing Integrated Management of the Pest Management Toolbox
This is supported. The powers and responsibilities of the toolbox manager should be clearly set out. The capability (knowledge, skills and tools) to achieve biosecurity results is fundamental, and research is necessary to underpin the toolbox. Management approaches may be as important as direct control methods.
The Authority supports off-shore investigation and early detection to facilitate effective biosecurity responses.
Consistent standards for monitoring and reporting on pest management programmes are supported, and there should be some triggers for mandatory monitoring so that outcomes can be assessed on a regional and national basis. Monitoring protocols that do not place onerous responsibility on volunteer groups, or absorb excessive resource relative to the control being carried out, need to be developed. Protocols also need to be developed to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the biosecurity system.
Question 4 (b) Where should the toolbox be managed?
It is logical for BNZ to co-ordinate the toolbox. However clearly there should be provision for involvement at a high level, of agencies who have a vested interest in the toolbox, e.g. DoC, regional councils, Animal Health Board, and appropriate processes and protocols must be put in place.
Question 5 Proposals to improve collective action
The proposal to operate joint decision-making and cost-sharing where national public good and/or regional benefits overlap is supported in principle. However, the Biosecurity Strategy makes MAF accountable for the overall management of the whole biosecurity system, and decision-making processes are to take account of risks to the economy, biodiversity, taonga, human health and lifestyle. As mentioned above, agencies that are not funded for biosecurity outputs should not have to fund biosecurity outcomes from non-biosecurity budgets.
There should be more emphasis on the role for community organisations and public input, considering the extensive community group involvement in pest control, and the reliance of the biosecurity system on the public being the eyes and ears.
Programme of Change
In Table 5, Changes 1.5 and 3.1 refer to establishment of a secretariat. This should be able to be achieved within BNZ’s existing staff.
In Change 1.7, the 25 year action is implementing the revised legislation, and additionally, monitoring and reviewing the implementation.
In Change 2.1, the last bullet, Barriers to national pest management strategies should precede legislative change.
The Authority recognises the significance of an effective biosecurity system and supports the progress of the Plan of Action. We look forward to further involvement as the Plan of Action is implemented.