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.

When will a ban come into effect on NPPA listed species?

Technically, a ban comes into effect when the plant is determined to be an unwanted organism by the Chief Technical Officer but regional councils do not enforce the ban for the first six months, to ensure that all outlets are aware the plant is banned.

I have heard that certain areas are low risk. If didymo is unlikely to form, why bother cleaning?

Low risk doesn't mean no risk. Low risk areas may not have big blooms but if people don't clean they risk spreading didymo to other waterways. Rivers that are suitable for recreational activities such as fishing and kayaking, also tend to be those that are suitable for establishment of didymo. In its microscopic form it is hard to detect so we need everyone to treat all waterways as if they are affected.

What is the National Pest Plant Accord?

The National Pest Plant Accord (the Accord), developed in 2001, is a cooperative agreement between the Nursery and Garden Industry Association, regional councils and government departments with biosecurity responsibilities.

It identifies plants that are unwanted organisms under the Biosecurity Act 1993. These plants cannot be sold, propagated or distributed in New Zealand.

The Accord is not a pest management strategy. It is a non-statutory agreement between member parties. The process followed to establish and review the Accord is very different and completely separate from processes to establish and review pest management strategies.

How did we euthanase the GM zebra danio fish?

The fish were put to sleep with an aquatic anaesthetic - a product that is registered for anaesthetising and euthanasing fish, and is safe for handlers.

The anaesthetic was administered first to sedate the fish into a state of anaesthesia, after which they were overdosed. The fish were monitored at all times for any signs of distress. A vet with experience in fish health was consulted in order to choose the most humane method for euthanasia.

Once dead, the fish were treated as biohazard waste, bagged accordingly, and disposed of in a method approved by ERMA for the disposal of suspect genetically modified organisms (incineration).

Who is ECN and what do they do?

ECN stands for 'The Electronic Commerce Network Group', details of what they do can be found at (offsite link to provides a 'link' between the various software applications used by industry and the MPI IT systems. They ensure that the various electronic documentation 'formats' and messages being sent to MIP are able to be received and processed by MPI

Who is on the advisory group?

The advisory group is made up of representatives with a range of animal welfare perspectives, including on farm; processing; consumer; science; veterinarian; animal advocacy; and marketing and trade perspectives.

How do I explain the New Zealand standard to my suppliers?

Most international exporters will be aware of, if not already complying with, the ISPM 15 standard so explaination of the New Zealand standard should not be too difficult.

We recommend e-mailing the link to the full standard to all your suppliers for them to review.

How will MAF respond if avian influenza arrives in New Zealand?

In the event of an outbreak of avian influenza in New Zealand MAF would activate its Technical Response Policies and Operational Plans.

All highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses will be stamped out. As with other animal disease responses, independent technical advice will be sought and a number of response options evaluated to decide the best response option.

In addition to enhanced biosecurity in collaboration with poultry owners, response options include:

  • Quarantine
  • Culling
  • Planned slaughter as part of normal management
  • Movement control of risk goods
  • Tracing and local surveillance to locate the source of infection and determine the extent of spread
  • Decontamination
What can I do if I want to bring a vehicle into New Zealand?

A number of steps need to be taken before used vehicles can be cleared for use in New Zealand. For more information see non-biological items in the Other imports section of the site.

There is an import health standard available for all used vehicles as well as a standard for treated used vehicles.

You will also need to fulfil NZTA (offsite link to and Customs (offsite link to requirements.