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Dodgy invaders cost NZ millions: study

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 15/06/2016

A close up of the imported red fire ant © AAP Image/Queensland Department of Primary Industries A close up of the imported red fire ant Invaders from corrupt countries are destroying New Zealand's flora and fauna, a study has found.

According to research from Victoria University, New Zealand could dramatically reduce outbreaks of invasive species if it chose international trading partners more carefully.

The study reveals a country's level of governance and development strongly influence its risk of exporting exotic species.

Authors say biological invasions cost New Zealand hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

The eradication of three small imported fire ant nests alone cost in excess of ten million dollars.

Records from 10 years' worth of trade interceptions at Kiwi borders showed nearly 50,000 interceptions.

Co-author Evan Brenton-Rule said if New Zealand carefully selected trade partners, it could expect nine times less invasive species coming to the border.

"It's worthwhile thinking about how international trade deals and a change in trading partners may impact the number of exotic species knocking on our country's door."

However AgResearch principal scientist Dr Stephen Goldson said while there was some merit in the idea, it seemed like a "very blunt instrument" that could greatly narrow New Zealand's global trading opportunities.

"From an international-citizen point of view, does it mean that poor nations should languish in some kind of trade-vacuum in spite of what may be cost-effective production of valuable products and commodities?"

The study was published in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B, on Wednesday.

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