FAQs related to MAF assists with North Shore beach dog death investigations
Danios are a species of tropical fish popular with ornamental fish enthusiasts. They come in many varieties, including the striped Zebra danio. The species Danio rerio is a permitted species for import to New Zealand. Genetically modified danio, however, are not permitted entry for the aquarium trade.
At the time we were acting on the best information available. The importer believed the fish were dyed (which is apparently not uncommon in aquarium fish circles). A veterinarian inspected the fish under UV light (used to pick up fluorescence which is a tell-tale sign of GM in this case). No obvious fluorescence was observed and the importer’s assertion that they were dyed was entirely plausible.
We do have to concede that finding and euthanasing all the fish involved is going to be challenging. Even so, we are attempting the most comprehensive job we can. New Zealand has laws around this and it needs to be clear that there are consequences to illegally importing, possessing and selling GM organisms. In the end we will be relying on good public information in this response.
We are using various tracing methodologies to try to locate all the fish from both the original consignment and sales records. MAF BNZ will also be working directly with members of the aquarium fish community for information and seeking their support in tracing 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).
Preliminary results of genetic tests undertaken in a UK laboratory on two of the suspect red/pink danios have shown a positive response for the red fluorescent protein gene, indicating the fish are GM.
See media release MAF Biosecurity New Zealand acts on GM aquarium fish in New Zealand 19 July 2007