Frequently Asked Questions

Could didymo spread to lakes throughout New Zealand?

Yes. Although didymo prefers a river environment with clear water flowing over stable substrate at depths sufficient for light penetration to drive photosynthesis, blooms have been found in South Island Lakes. Lake Wakatipu, for example, contains visible didymo on some parts of the lake shore.

What other TSE's are there?

Other TSEs include chronic wasting disease (CWD) that occurs in deer and elk, and TME, or transmissible mink encephalopathy, which occurs rarely in mink.

What does the name Didymosphenia geminata mean?

Didymosphenia, derived from the Latin 'didymos', means double. Likewise, geminata, derived from the Latin word 'geminus', means twin born, paired or double. Both of these words refer to the bilateral microscopic shape of the organism which looks like a curved bottle with paired bulbous ends. This is due to the pairing of two halves of the silicified cell wall which fit together like a Petri dish, with one half slightly smaller than the other.

What is MAF Biosecurity New Zealand and the Ministry of Health doing about Asian tiger mosquito?

The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) are working together with Auckland Regional Public Health Service, the Ports of Auckland, and the Auckland City Council to determine if an Asian Tiger Mosquito population is present.

An enhanced surveillance programme is currently seeking to identify, and if necessary contain, control and eliminate any Asian Tiger Mosquitoes found in the area before they can spread further. This programme includes the placement of additional traps and the identification and elimination or treatment of all potential habitats in the port area.

What are the most important areas covered by the Biosecurity Surveillance Strategy?

The Biosecurity Surveillance Strategy has been developed to help protect what New Zealanders value the most - our health, economy and social and cultural values. Accordingly, the strategy will apply to biosecurity surveillance in all areas of primary production and the natural environment, from livestock farming to marine habitat conservation. The central themes of the Biosecurity Surveillance Strategy will be: leading biosecurity surveillance, working together, delivering quality surveillance and sharing information. These represent key areas into which strategic goals will be grouped.

Can my software receive the BACC directly?

This will be dependent upon what your software (and/or software vendor) supports. The BACC can be delivered to your system via the existing MPI email process. Alternatively ECN are providing a system that can deliver this to your system.

Why is dog tail docking and dew claw removal allowed only in puppies that are under four days old?

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) considered, on the available evidence, that the amount of pain that a dog experiences when its tail is docked is reduced if the puppy is of a very young age. At this age, some of the connections in the puppy’s brain which carry signals to let the puppy experience pain are not yet fully developed and scientific evidence suggests that, at this age, the puppy does not experience pain as it would if the tail was removed in an older dog. 

Please note this information is provided by way of general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice. Parties are advised to seek independent legal advice in relation to particular fact situations.

How many rabies blood tests does my dog or cat need?

There is only one rabies blood test required. The blood sample for this must be collected between 3 and 24 months prior to the date of shipment and the rabies titre must be at least 0.5IU/ml.

What are the costs to New Zealand of not implementing the GM testing protocol?

If this testing protocol were not established, the likelihood of inadvertent import and planting of GM lucerne/alfalfa into New Zealand may increase. Little is known about the potential for persistence of these GMOs in the New Zealand environment, therefore existing lucerne hay and alfalfa/lucerne seed markets may be affected.  Additionally, growers of these seeds may find themselves in breach of the HSNO Act, as GM lucerne/alfalfa has not been approved for planting in New Zealand.

If I see something in the river, how do I know if it is didymo or not?

Didymo can be distinguished from other species of algae on the basis of:

  • Colour - didymo is beige/brown/white but not green.
  • Touch - Although it looks slimy, it doesn't feel slimy, but rather spongy and scratchy like cotton wool.
  • Odour - Live didymo has no distinctive odour.
  • Strength - didymo is very securely attached to river stones and does not fall apart when rubbed between your fingers.

However, didymo can easily be confused with other stalked algae, so microscopic analysis is required to confirm identification.  Please phone the Ministry for Primary Industries on 0800 80 99 66 if you think you have found didymo.