Strengthening our biosecurity team
The Tauranga Moana Biosecurity Capital (TMBC) initiative celebrated another year of leading biosecurity excellence in the region, with its annual symposium last week.
The symposium was about continuing to build connections across the network, with participants coming from a range of backgrounds - iwi, science, education, industry and government. What all had in common was a passion for biosecurity and a passion for protecting what we love about the region.
Around 100 members from across the biosecurity community attended the day which had a theme of ‘Impact, learnings and new thinking for biosecurity as a result of COVID-19’.
A diverse range of speakers reminded us what’s at stake when a region and nation is faced with a large-scale response, including a first-hand account from the Port of Tauranga of the importance of safely keeping trade and supply chains flowing. While on the topic of the economy, Nigel Tutt from Priority One detailed the regional economic impact of COVID-19, using Psa as a comparison of similar (but longer-term) scale, while also detailing what we are doing as a region to position ourselves for recovery.
During a session dedicated to lessons for biosecurity from the impact of coronavirus, Penny Nelson from Biosecurity New Zealand discussed how both the COVID-19 and Mycoplasma bovis responses have helped shape a new view on ‘what good looks like’ in terms of good responses, and good biosecurity behaviour. She higlighted that the TMBC initiative and partners are well placed to raise the bar even higher in the region so that we all demonstrate what ‘best’ looks like.
Bay of Plenty Tourism’s presentation during the same session also higlighted the importance of biosecurity best practice. Chief Executive Kristin Dunne signalled the intention of the organisation to subtely set examples of this in future videos and promotional material, and to work with tourism providers to ensure messages to visitors and residents are aligned with TMBC’s biosecurity goals.
The second half of the symposium focussed on new ways of thinking about biosecurity and ensuring we keep building a biosecurity team of five million. Ian Proudfoot, Global Head of Agribusiness at KPMG led the session with a presentation on how we can maintain world-class biosecurity. He discussed how important it is to be prepared to manage the next big threat – at a national, regional, industry and orchard level – because we simply cannot afford another major incursion. In light of COVID-19 he made the point that elimination is not always an option in a biosecurity response but the more prepared we are, the more we are able to manage anything that comes our way.
A lot of ‘being prepared’ said Ian comes down to strong communication and the ability to share information and tell good stories. This was something John Walsh from Biosecurity New Zealand also discussed when he talked about his recent role leading communications and public informaiton for all of government during the COVID-19 response. The networks and connections already built by members of TMBC put the region in good stead to hit the ground running in the event of a crisis, and ensure that clear and simple information about what needs to be done, when, why and how is shared with all members of the community.