Media Release: Rare footage of whales captured in Antarctica

Source: Antarctica New Zealand

Headline: Media Release: Rare footage of whales captured in Antarctica

Media Release

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Rare Footage of Whales Captured in Antarctica

“I’m such an excited scientist right now!”

Dr Regina Eisert, marine mammal expert at the University of Canterbury, still can’t believe the underwater footage her team captured on a recent Antarctic expedition to study killer whales.

“The whole whale glides past – this is such a lucky shot!” she says as she watches her computer screen.

With a serenity that belies its massive size, a minke whale floats gracefully through the frame. Little is known about Antarctic minke whales that can grow up to 10 m long and weigh 9 tonnes. Dr Eisert believes this may be the first time a minke whale has been filmed underwater, and in the sea ice, in the Ross Sea.

Dr Eisert is particularly excited as she didn’t think anything had been captured on a new prototype underwater camera designed by Antarctic film expert Anthony Powell of Antzworks.

“The plan was to film continuously across the icebreaker channel that is prepared for the re-supply vessel to cross McMurdo Sound. The water’s so clear, you can see right across the 50-80 m lane and monitor all the whales that use the channel,” Dr Eisert says. “Unfortunately, the system only recorded for just a few hours, due to teething problems for this new technology in the field. We had no idea that we had this footage until Anthony found it when checking the camera back in Christchurch!”

Dr Eisert’s research programme focusses on fish-eating (Type C) killer whales, but she also became interested in minke whales when she realised that they are champions of ice navigation, beating even the Type-C killer whales in their ability to infiltrate deep into McMurdo Sound.

According to IWC estimates, there are about 180,000 minke whales in Area V, the area of Southern Ocean that includes the Ross Sea region. Dr Eisert says while this species is likely to be an important part of the Ross Sea food web, little is known about their precise role in the ecosystem. Minke whales are also the only whales that are still hunted in the Southern Ocean, ostensibly for scientific purposes.  But there are other ways to study whales that cause no harm, such as photo-identification and dart biopsies.

When a minke swims by, Dr Eisert and her team take a photo – and a skin samples using a small dart.

“We can learn so much from a small tissue sample, such as their diet – we think they just eat krill, but do they eat small fish as well? Also, DNA analysis can tell us whether Ross Sea minkes are separate from other minke whales on the Antarctic Peninsula or further north, or if they are all part of one larger population,” she says.

As filter feeders that primarily target krill, Dr Eisert says minke whales feed low in the food web and follow the retreating sea ice to find the richest feeding grounds. 

“This means they’re excellent indicators of ‘ecosystem hotspots’ – particularly productive areas.  This information in turn feeds into environmental stewardship, in particular by supporting the objectives of the Ross Sea region Marine Protected Area (MPA).” 

The Ross Sea region MPA came into effect on 1 December 2017. It covers 1.55 million square kilometres, and is the world’s largest marine protected area. Ongoing research and monitoring are required to show that the MPA meets its objectives and to ensure the MPA’s continued existence.

Dr Eisert’s team travelled to Scott Base with Antarctica New Zealand in January, and she hopes analysis of the samples and images they collected will begin a valuable data set for Ross Sea minke whale research.

ENDS

The footage can be accessed here.

Megan Martin

GM Communications

Antarctica New Zealand

m.martin@antarcticanz.govt.nz

027 2205 989

For further comment on this minke whale footage, please contact:

Dr Regina Eisert

University of Canterbury

regina.eisert@canterbury.ac.nz

03 369 2060

NIWA expertise contributes to healthy hoki fishery

Source: NIWA – National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: NIWA expertise contributes to healthy hoki fishery

When NIWA fisheries scientist Richard O’Driscoll went to sea earlier this year, he and his team measured so many fish that laid end to end, they would have stretched for 31km.

Science Centres: 

Fisheries

Research Subject: 

Fish

Author: 
Mr Hugh McCracken

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Wakas bring microplastics to Wellington

Source: ESR – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: Wakas bring microplastics to Wellington

New Zealand scientists have been taking advantage of the waka involved in the opening of the New Zealand Festival tonight to conduct research into plastics in our seas. 

A Waka Odyssey will see seven waka hourua (double canoes), eight waka taua (war canoes) and fleet of waka ama helping re-tell New Zealand’s story of origin.

Throughout the journey from Napier one of the wakas, Te Matau a Maui gathered samples of microplastics to be tested by scientists. A special net attached to the waka was used to collect microplastics as it was pulled through the surface waters.

ESR scientist Olga Pantos says to collect the samples the vessels are required to go slowly.  “The waka are great vessels to carry out the trawls at around three knots.”

Since Te Matau a Māui did a voyage through the South Pacific and saw the levels of plastic pollution they have been passionate about learning more and stemming the flow of this pollutant into the environment.  “The sea is culturally very important to them.”

The PURE Tour and Waka Odyssey Festival has allowed the relationships between Te Matau a Māui trust, 5Gyres, Algalita South Pacific and ESR to come together to carry out the first near-shore coastal sampling and analysis of microplastics in the surface waters of Aotearoa.

The samples of plastic that were collected during the trawls were delivered to ESR and with Canterbury University they will separate out the fragments of plastic from the organic material and test the type of plastics they are made of.

“Plastics pose a significant risk to the ecosystem. Fish and other sea life will eat the plastics. Chemicals associated with the plastics may enter their tissues and may result in bioaccumulation and biomagnification which potentially could have an impact up through the food chain.

Research into this area is fairly new to New Zealand and we need to do a lot more testing on a larger scale to see how much plastic is out there, not only in the marine but also freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems, and understand the risks they pose to ecosystems, animals and potentially humans.”

While there is a lot of evidence of the detrimental effects of large plastic items on animals and ecosystems, knowledge of the amount and distribution of microplastic waste and its impacts on organisms (including species that are food sources for humans) and ecosystems is still lacking.

But Dr Pantos says with the sea being such an important part of New Zealanders lives for both food and recreation, it is research well worth doing.

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Scientists send snapper to boot camp

Source: NIWA – National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: Scientists send snapper to boot camp

At a laboratory just outside Whangarei, scientists are putting very young snapper through comprehensive physical testing – including a full medical check-up involving smell, hearing, vision, and even anxiety testing.

NIWA’s Northland Marine Research Centre at Bream Bay is the site for this experiment which aims to understand the effects of ocean acidification and warmer sea temperatures on snapper larvae.

“Most work in this area overseas is conducted on small, tropical reef fish. To be able to look at the effects of climate change on such a highly valued commercial, customary and recreational species as snapper in New Zealand is a first for us and very exciting,” says NIWA marine ecologist Dr Darren Parsons.

The experiment is a collaboration between NIWA, Prof Phillip Munday of James Cook University in Australia, and the University of Auckland under the auspices of the Ministry for Primary Industries biodiversity fund as well as CARIM (Coastal Acidification, Rate, Impacts and Management)

CARIM is a four-year project funded by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment aimed at establishing the scale of acidification and how it is affecting iconic NZ species such as paua, mussels and snapper, and also New Zealand coastal ecosystems.

The snapper experiment began last month when adult broodstock were spawned at Bream Bay and the eggs placed in tanks under four different conditions. The eggs and larvae were used for the experiment because, compared to adult fish, they are the most vulnerable to environmental change.

In one set of tanks the temperature is 18°C, which matches normal conditions at the time of spawning. In other tanks the temperature is 22°C, closer to sea surface temperatures reached this summer due to a marine heatwave.

Carbon dioxide levels are being kept at present oceanic levels in the third set of tanks, and then raised in the fourth set of tanks to match those expected at the end of this century. Each tank was stocked with thousands of eggs.

During the first 35 days, after the eggs hatched into larvae but before they became juvenile fish, scientists monitored how fast they grew, photographed them, and counted how many died.

The scientists are also watching changes in the behaviour of the fish as they regulate the pH in their systems.

“To compensate for rising CO2 levels, fish regulate the levels of bicarbonate and chloride ions in their blood. These changes are thought to influence a neurotrasmitter in their brains, and in some other species this has resulted in a range of different behaviour and sensory effects being displayed,” Dr Parsons says.

For example, fish will normally swim away from water if they can smell a predator nearby. But when that water is treated with high CO2, some other species have been shown to swim towards it. “This could potentially end up causing high mortality in the wild.”

In a flume tank the larvae are tested for “swimmability” with increasing water flows.

“The flume tank is like a treadmill for fish. We ramp up the speed of the treadmill until the fish can’t swim forward anymore to give us an idea of their aerobic performance and how this differs for larvae from the different experimental conditions.”

Vision and hearing tests are also conducted as well as the response of the fish to a startle stimulus that measures their ability to escape from potential harm.

Dr Parsons says this research is a “first cut” at looking at the direct effects of ocean acidification and increased temperature on fish in New Zealand waters.

“While it will take a lot of evidence before these kinds of issues can be built into management advice, this is a start at figuring out the scale of the issues and how they might unfold over time.”

Dr Parsons said the combination of Australian expertise in this field combined with NIWA’s experience with broodstock and husbandry at Bream Bay provided a unique situation for the experiments to go ahead.

“It is very exciting to be at a point where we can bring this expertise together.”

Contact:

Dr Darren Parsons, NIWA marine ecologist
Ph 09 375 4531
Mob 021-170-1724

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Warmer seas make whales more difficult to find and track

Source: NIWA – National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: Warmer seas make whales more difficult to find and track

A two-week expedition to tag blue whales in New Zealand waters for the first time, almost came up empty due to warmer sea temperatures causing the animals to change their behaviour.

NIWA megafauna expert and marine ecologist Kim Goetz led the expedition hoping to tag up to eight blue whales to help understand their foraging and migration patterns. The tags transmit location data via satellite.

The original plan was to locate and tag the whales in Cook Strait and off the coast of south Taranaki.

“We have little idea about how these whales use these regions, including movements in and out of the area, which has important management implications.

“Usually when whales are found off Taranaki, there’s a lot of upwelling going on and the waters are around 13-16°C. But we had water temperatures of 20-22°C and we are currently in a La Niña weather pattern, which is not conducive to upwelling of nutrients in the Cook Strait region,” Dr Goetz said.

Upwellings occur when deep cold water rises to the surface. This water is rich in nutrients and plays an important role in the productivity of the ecosystem, which ultimately influences the movement of marine animals.

“We spent the first couple of days searching the area off Taranaki where we suspected the blue whales would be but just came up empty. Near Farewell Spit a pilot from Golden Bay Air found one animal but it was heading south in a hurry.

“We had a report that blue whales were seen in the Hokitika Canyon, south of Greymouth, so at that point we decided to head further down the west coast.”

While sheltering from bad weather in Westport, Dr Goetz and her team, comprising researchers from the Department of Conservation and Blue Planet Marine, spoke to tuna fishermen who reported having to head south to fish much sooner in the year than normal due to abnormally high sea temperatures in the north.

“When the weather improved we hired a plane to search for whales in offshore waters down to the Hokitika Canyon while our boat headed south at the same time. Both the fishermen and the pilot confirmed that the whales were 20 to 30 nautical miles offshore from Westport. Sure enough, we found the blues in among the tuna vessels, but it was like finding a needle in a haystack with this La Niña weather pattern.”

The water was thick with gelatinous salps, which are 95% water and not nutritious enough to sustain whales, but there were no krill at the surface so the whales were feeding at depth— staying down for up to 10 minutes at a time.

“They usually breathe at the surface four or five times and then they’re down. If they’re appearing 300m from your boat when they surface, by the time you get to them they’re down again.
“Despite it being really difficult to get near them, we were able to attach tracking devices to two whales which, on reflection was really good. We thought at first we weren’t going to get any instruments deployed at all.”

The tracking devices, which should last for four to six months, show both whales are now heading north, with one bypassing the Taranaki region.

“We have no idea where these animals are heading but the tags are transmitting well and it has all been worth it,” Dr Goetz said.

“This will give us novel information as it is the first movement data for this species in New Zealand waters which is very exciting.”

The NIWA research expedition was also supported by OMV, University of Auckland, the Australian Antarctic Division, Western Work Boats, Oregon State University and the Pew Charitable Trust. 

Contact

Kim Goetz
Ph 04 386 1623

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NIWA’s Hotspot Watch for 9 February 2018

Source: NIWA – National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: NIWA’s Hotspot Watch for 9 February 2018

A weekly update describing soil moisture across the country to help assess whether severely to extremely dry conditions are occurring or imminent. Regions experiencing these soil moisture deficits are deemed “hotspots”. Persistent hotspot regions have the potential to develop into drought.

Facts: Soil Moisture

Across the North Island, soil moisture levels have generally decreased in the southwest and increased in the north over the past week. The driest soils across the North Island compared to normal for this time of year are found in west coastal Taranaki, the Tararua District (Manawatu-Whanganui), and about Gisborne.

Hotspots in the North Island are located across Gisborne, the Tararua District, and in parts of west coastal Taranaki.

Across the South Island, soil moisture levels have generally remained the same over the past week except in Southland, where they increased slightly. The driest soils across the South Island compared to normal for this time of year are found in coastal Buller.

The only hotspot in the South Island is in Southland.

Outlook and Soil Moisture

Active weather is expected to be found across New Zealand this weekend, persisting across the North Island into early next week, before high pressure builds in and brings more settled conditions.

On Saturday, rainfall totalling 10 to 25 mm is expected in a band extending from western Northland into the Central Plateau. Across the lower and eastern North Island, 5 to 15 mm are forecast aside from Gisborne where totals less than 5 mm are likely.

Sunday will have another round of rain across the northern and western North Island, with 5 to 15 mm commonplace but localised amounts exceeding 25 mm. A narrow band of rain may persist from Monday into Tuesday, pivoting about the upper and western North Island. Each day, 10 to 20 mm is likely, although there may be areas of more persistent rains where totals exceed 25 mm.

From Wednesday into the late week, high pressure is likely to build across the island, yielding a return to drier conditions.

In the South Island, rain about the north on Saturday afternoon will total up to 5 mm and isolated showers in coastal Canterbury and Fiordland will total 5 mm or less. Sunday will have wet conditions, with the top of the island generally receiving 20 to 40 mm and a risk for localised flooding. Western areas will have a bit less, 15 to 35 mm, although sharply higher amounts up to 75 mm can be expected in the ranges. In the east, rainfall is expected to total 5 to 15 mm with 5 mm or less about the far south.

Wet conditions will prevail on Monday along the West Coast with another 10 to 25 mm expected. Rain is also possible in the north, with most places seeing 10 mm or less, especially in the west.

From Tuesday into Wednesday, rainfall chances about the South Island will generally decrease as weak high pressure builds overhead. Scattered rain cannot be ruled out, although totals will mostly be 5 mm or less.

Late in the week, a front over the Tasman Sea may approach, bringing a return to some wet weather in the west.

Over the next week, rainfall is expected to be above or much above normal in the North Island. Therefore, current hotspots are expected to shrink or be eliminated. In the South Island, normal or above normal rainfall is expected in the west, north and east. Normal or below normal rainfall is possible in the far south, which may allow the hotspot in Southland to persist.

Background:

Hotspot Watch: a weekly advisory service for New Zealand media. It provides soil moisture and precipitation measurements around the country to help assess whether extremely dry conditions are imminent. 

Soil moisture deficit:  the amount of water needed to bring the soil moisture content back to field capacity, which is the maximum amount of water the soil can hold.

Soil moisture anomaly:  the difference between the historical normal soil moisture deficit (or surplus) for a given time of year and actual soil moisture deficits.

Definitions: “Extremely” and “severely” dry soils are based on a combination of the current soil moisture status and the difference from normal soil moisture (see soil moisture maps)

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Solving crime

Source: ESR – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: Solving crime

An innovative New Zealand product has helped in the breakthrough of a brutal triple murder case in the US.

Three young people were slayed in the Palm Beach town of Jupiter, and while one person was arrested shortly after the murder, police were drawing a blank as to who the second person might be.

Eight months after the murder, police have arrested a second suspect thanks to the sophisticated forensic software called STRmix™ which is marketed and sold by Crown Research Institute, ESR.

STRmix uses computer software to help scientists identify individual DNA in evidence that contains up to five people’s DNA.

ESR Chief Executive Keith McLea says STRmix™ has been a breakthrough in scientists helping authorities in criminal cases.

“Prior to this scientific breakthrough, forensic scientists were not able to draw conclusions from complex mixed DNA samples.
In this case in the US, “STRmix™ allowed the software to match mixed DNA profiles directly against a database. This is a major advance for cases where there are no suspects and there is DNA from multiple contributors in one sample.”

The software was developed by ESR, with Forensic Science South Australia (FSSA). It is currently used in labs in Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, Dubai, Hong Kong, Finland, Switzerland and China.

In the US, STRmix™ is being used by numerous local, state, and federal agencies, including the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory (USACIL), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Michigan State Police, Texas Department of Public Safety, and the California Department of Justice.

Visit STRmix™ 

For more information please contact: 

Lynne St.Clair-Chapman
Communications Manager
Lynne.st.clair-chapman@esr.cri.nz
027 405 8644

← Back to news

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NIWA’s Hotspot Watch for 2 February 2018

Source: NIWA – National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: NIWA’s Hotspot Watch for 2 February 2018

A weekly update describing soil moisture across the country to help assess whether severely to extremely dry conditions are occurring or imminent. Regions experiencing these soil moisture deficits are deemed “hotspots”. Persistent hotspot regions have the potential to develop into drought.

Facts: Soil Moisture

Across the North Island, soil moisture levels generally increased in northern areas while decreasing at least slightly in eastern and southern regions. The largest increases were observed across Auckland, northern Waikato, and western Bay of Plenty, while small decreases occurred across much of the east coast from Gisborne south to Wairarapa, as well as the Coromandel Peninsula. The driest soils compared to normal for this time of the year are found in coastal Gisborne and Wairoa, while the wettest soils for this time of the year are located in the eastern Far North District and western Bay of Plenty.

North Island hotspots continue to be found across much of Gisborne, northern Hawke’s Bay, and Tararua west to Horowhenua and Kapiti Coast. A small hotspot has also emerged across the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula.

In the South Island, significant increases in soil moisture levels occurred across much of the West Coast, Fiordland, Otago, Southland, and southern Canterbury on 1st February due to the landfall of ex-Tropical Cyclone Fehi, which produced more than 100 mm of rainfall in some locations. However, little change was observed in northeastern portions of the South Island where rainfall amounts were significantly less. The driest soils compared to normal for this time of the year are found near Westport in Buller District, while the wettest soils for this time of the year are located near Nelson.

The only hotspot in the South Island continues to be located in Southland, but it has decreased significantly in size and strength due to the recent heavy rainfall.

The New Zealand Drought Index (NZDI) shows continued improvement in meteorological drought conditions across the lower North Island and Buller District, where drought areas have shrunken considerably in recent weeks. While meteorological drought continues across interior and southern Otago and eastern Southland, recent heavy rainfall should bring at least moderate improvement to those areas.

Outlook and Soil Moisture

In the North Island, the upcoming weekend (3rd-4th February) will feature mostly dry weather for central and southern areas. However, a few showers could deliver up to 10 mm to Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne, while a small disturbance could produce 15-25 mm for parts of Auckland and Northland. On Monday a weak front may bring 10-15 mm to parts of the central North Island before mostly dry weather arrives for Tuesday and Wednesday. By Thursday (8th February), low pressure north of Cape Reinga could bring more moderate rainfall to Northland and Auckland in the range of 10-20 mm.

With potentially significant rainfall expected in Northland and Auckland during the next week, soil moisture increases are likely to occur. Smaller increases may also occur in Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay, which would provide some improvements to the hotspots there. However, generally light rainfall is anticipated in the lower North Island, which could strengthen the hotspot from Tararua to Kapiti Coast.

In the South Island, primarily dry weather is expected over the weekend, with the exception of up to 25 mm of rainfall possible in the northern West Coast on Sunday (4th February). A passing front on Monday could produce up to 40 mm along the West Coast with up to 15 mm in the lower South Island. However, between Tuesday and Thursday high pressure will produce mostly if not entirely dry weather. In the northeastern South Island and interior Otago, weekly rainfall amounts may be less than 15 mm.

Further increases in soil moisture levels are likely in much of the West Coast during the next week due to the expected rainfall. However, soils are likely to become drier in the northeastern South Island and in interior Otago due to light rainfall there. In Southland, the ongoing hotspot may not change significantly during the next week. 

Background:

Hotspot Watch: a weekly advisory service for New Zealand media. It provides soil moisture and precipitation measurements around the country to help assess whether extremely dry conditions are imminent. 

Soil moisture deficit:  the amount of water needed to bring the soil moisture content back to field capacity, which is the maximum amount of water the soil can hold.

Soil moisture anomaly:  the difference between the historical normal soil moisture deficit (or surplus) for a given time of year and actual soil moisture deficits.

Definitions: “Extremely” and “severely” dry soils are based on a combination of the current soil moisture status and the difference from normal soil moisture (see soil moisture maps)

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Northland communities want stricter GE controls

Source: GE Free New Zealand – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: Northland communities want stricter GE controls

3 July 2013       Press Release    

Northland communities want stricter GE controls

GE Free Northland welcomes the stance taken by Local Government NZ and Northland District Councils, in response to the recent announcement by Environment Minister Amy Adams that she will change the law to stop councils restricting the outdoor use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in their local areas.

“We are pleased to see that the President of Local Government,  Lawrence Yule, recognizes that councils have taken steps to create an additional tier of protection against the risks of outdoor use of GMOs because their ratepayers want a more precautionary approach than central government requires,” said GE Free Northland spokesperson Martin Robinson.

The work undertaken by local councils on behalf of their farmers and other ratepayers is necessary given serious deficencies in the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act, including a lack of strict liablity and no mandatory requirement for the EPA to take a precautionary approach to GE experiments and releases.

Councils in Northland, Auckland, Bay of Plenty, and Hawke’s Bay have responded wisely to on-going concerns about GMOs by their constituents, by investigating the risks posed by GMOs in the environment, and how they can best minimize these risks.

“We find it offensive that Amy Adams is recommending in 2013 that our local councils lobby the EPA about their concerns about the inadequacies of the HSNO Act..  Our councils and Local Government NZ have lobbied central government extensively, both during and after the 2003 New Organisms and other Matters Bill, and central government has shown no inclination to properly amend HSNO to provide the level of protection local communities require,” said Zelka Grammer, Chairperson GE free Northland.

Rookie Minister Amy Adams made remarks last week that make no sense in the context of the 5 August 2013 written response her colleague (former Minister for the Environment Nick Smith) gave to the June 2010 letter from all the member councils of the Northland/ Auckland “Inter Council Working Party on GMO Risk Evaluation and Management Options.”

Dr. Smith’s response to the ICWP on GMOs clearly states:

“Decisions on whether to approve a GMO are best undertaken by the independent, quasi-judicial body,the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA). However, this does not preclude a council from restricting or preventing the use of GMOs in their region, provided that this action meets the relevant requirements of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA).”

Ms Adams is buying a fight with communities and growers by saying she will block councils from banning GE crops.

“It is of concern that the Minister Amy Adams has made a number of factually incorrect statements, and is acting in defiance of public opinion, going against the advice of the previous minister and common sense,” said Martin Robinson.

GE Free Northland supports our local councils who back local democracy and the rights of non GM farmers.  Ratepayers and taxpayers want stricter controls on outdoor use of GMOs than those set by central government.

The controls that councils are putting in place would place the responsibility, accountability, and liability on the person or company growing the crops, which is where it should be.

The challenge for councils now is to defend the public interest, our biosecurity, environment, primary producers and economy- and place methods, policies and rules controlling or banning GMOs in local plans.

GE FREE NORTHLAND applauds the commitment of local District Councils and the Auckland Unitary authority to address the GE issue, as central government continues to ignore the concerns of many eminent scientists, territorial authorities and our key markets, as well as the majority of New Zealanders,.

More information:

Martin Robinson            09 407 8650  (Kerikeri)
Zelka Linda Grammer    09 432 2155  (Whangarei)

Background information:

-Mr Yule, Mayor of Hastings District Council, said his council wants a 10-year moratorium on GE to give Hawke’s Bay food and wine an advantage in export markets.

Communities want ‘stricter’ GE controls 28 June 2013 Radio NZ interview

www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/138819/communities-want-%27stricter%27-ge-controls

-members of the Northland /Auckland “ICWP on GMOs” include Whangarei, Kaipara, Far North District Councils, Northland Regional Council and Auckland Council

-to view the 2010 correspondence between Dr. Nick Smith and  Northland/ Auckland ICWP on GMOs) see “GMO Reports”
www.wdc.govt.nz/PlansPoliciesandBylaws/Plans/Genetic-Engineering/Pages/default.aspx#Expand

-the results of the ICWP on GMOs commissioned independent Colmar Brunton poll (2009) on GE show that

 1. all communities strongly favour making users of GMOs legally responsible for any economic or environmental harm that may result. Support for regulation to make users of GMOs strictly liable for any harm caused ranged from 63% to 72% for individual councils.  

 2. strong support for councils to have a role in regulating GMOs (this could include outright prohibition) ranging from 66% to 75% for individual councils
 3. support for local regulation is strongest among Maori, particularly in the Northland region

– The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Genetic Modification 2001 recommendation 13.1 stated that the methodology for implementing the Hazardous substances and New Organisms Act should ‘ Allow for specified categories of GM crops to be excluded from districts where their presence would be a significant threat to a established non GMO crop use.’

-Part 2: Regional Policy Statement http://unitaryplan.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/Images/Printable%20PDFs/Part%202%20-%20Regional%20Policy%20Statement%20FULL.pdf

– Sustainably Managing our Natural Resources http://unitaryplan.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/Images/Printable%20PDFs/RPS/2.6%20Sustainably%20managing%20our%20natural%20resources.pdf

-Community Management of GMO’s III http://www.wdc.govt.nz/PlansPoliciesandBylaws/Plans/Genetic-Engineering/Documents/GE-Reports/Community-Management-of-GMOs-III.pdf

Further background:

NZ Herald 24 June 2013 “”Stricter rules for GMOs – working party” 

www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10892481

NZ Herald 26 June 2013  “Adams to block councils from own rules”

www.nzherald.co.nz/environment/news/article.cfm?c_id=39&objectid=10892985

http://press.gefree.org.nz/press/20130627.htm

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GE CONTROLS NEED STRENGTHENING, NOT SLASHING

Source: GE Free New Zealand – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: GE CONTROLS NEED STRENGTHENING, NOT SLASHING

The Green Party is calling for Environment Minister Amy Adams to back off from her threats to strip councils of their power to regulate for genetic engineering in their communities.

The New Zealand Herald today reported that the Minister is investigating how to change the law to stop councils from putting in place controls on genetic engineering (GE) in their communities.

“These councils have established that our current regulations don’t adequately cover them or farmers in the event of a GE contamination and they need to step in and provide those protections,” said Green Party GE spokesperson Steffan Browning.

“So what is this Government’s response? Same as usual, change the law to take away local democracy.

“The controls that councils are putting in pace would place the responsibility, accountability, and liability on the person or company growing the crops, which is where it should be.

“This is how nuclear-free New Zealand started, with local councils taking the stand their community wanted them to take and that is a stance that the whole country is very proud of now.

“This Government wants to strip local councils of their ability to regulate what happens in their own regions.

“Without adequate regulation from central government the burden of risk for GE is placed entirely in the wrong place; on GE-free farmers whose crops have been contaminated from neighbouring GE farms, and on the councils themselves.

“It’s entirely rational for a council to ask GE growers to put aside resources to pay for any crop contamination, and to publically notify an application to release GE crops. Farmers have a right to know if their neighbours are going to be using GE, and ratepayers shouldn’t have to pay for contamination or liability costs.

“Councils are working hard to meet the needs of their local communities; they don’t need Minister Adams rolling in and riding roughshod over their local democracy,” Mr Browning said.

Subject: Genetic Engineering

Further info: see today’s NZ Herald article:””Stricter rules for GMOs – working party

NZ Herald Monday, 24 June 2013
www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10892481

26 June 2013 NZ Herald

www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10892985

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