After a new biosecurity zone was established at Bulahdelah today, another emergency zone has been introduced south of Newcastle by the NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) in response to confirmed detections of Varroa mite.
Acting chief plant protection officer Chris Anderson said DPI had now established emergency zones around nine infested premises, including the new zone around a Calga property south of Newcastle which became effective today.
"DPI has put significant measures in place to arrest the spread of the threat and is being assisted by the apiary industry, Local Land Services (LLS), NSW Police, NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) and the wider community," he said.
"Since Varroa mite was first identified at the Port of Newcastle last week, NSW DPI has been working with apiary industry bodies and stakeholders to ensure beekeepers are informed and empowered to be part of this critical response.
"So far many of the infested premises have been located very close together so the emergency zones covered largely the same areas but recent detections at Bulahdelah and Calga have expanded the area covered."
No bees or beekeeping equipment can be moved anywhere in NSW, and no honey or honeycomb removed from hives.
Hives must not be touched unless conducting surveillance for Varroa mite or at the direction of an NSW DPI officer.
Earlier today the emergency biosecurity zone was created around the mid-north coast town of Bulahdelah after a property reported a case of Varroa Mite.
Bulahdelah now has the same three tier response as the area around the Port of Newcastle which incorporates a 10 kilometre euthanasia zone, 25km surveillance and an 50km biosecurity zone.
NSW Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders said 'the case is directly linked to a previously identified property'.
"It shows the prompt and efficient response by the Department of Primary Industries is working well," he said.
Two other properties reported new cases, one at Newcastle and one at Seaham.
Overall, nine cases have been reported including the initial case at the sentinel hives near Port of Newcastle.
"I want to be clear that the expansion of the biosecurity zones is no cause for alarm, but actually shows the surveillance system is doing its job to stay on top of where this parasite is hiding," Mr Saunders said.
Australian Honey Bee Industry Council acting CEO, Danny Le Feuvre said the council was working hand-in-hand with NSW DPI to 'get the best outcome for NSW beekeepers'.
"We are working hard to do what we can for beekeepers," he said.
"We are embedded in the emergency response team and the State Control Centre.
"The DPI has acted swiftly to attempt to control this situation since the Varroa Mite was first discovered last Wednesday.
"It has been a monumental logistical challenge and they have done their best."
Mr Le Feuvre said that while everything was being done to control any outbreak, other countries had shown that life with the might can be managed.
"Australia is the last continent to be free of Varroa Mite," he said.
"While ideally we would look to eradicate any cases, if the worst does happen it can be managed.
"We would look at the country of origin to investigate any forms of resistance and then look to give our beekeepers the tools they need.
"Currently there are only emergency permits to manage this mite.
"If the worst were to happen, we would look to generate general use permits to give our beekeepers the tools in the toolbox to manage it."
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