In 2012 the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) started to review the regulatory requirements for Post Entry Quarantine (PEQ) facilities. PEQ facilities are used to hold plant material imported for propagation, ahead of it gaining biosecurity clearance to enter New Zealand. The Facility Standard, which was the subject of the review, sets out the operational and physical/structural requirements to run such a facility.
Existing regulations were over 15 years old. They did not take into account changes to the New Zealand Biosecurity Act, and were not always consistent with other MPI standards, processes and international regulations. The review aimed to address these factors, and, where possible, to provide options to manage plant germplasm in a PEQ facility in a way more commensurate with biosecurity risk.
There is a perception amongst some industry members in New Zealand that imported germplasm is a low risk pathway. In contrast, MPI (and the scientific community in general) consider it one of the highest risk pathways for the introduction of disease organisms to new geographical regions. MPI worked closely with industry when reviewing the standard, to ensure that the proposed measures were practical, and that industry had a clear understanding of why the standard needed to be updated. This was considered especially important because most PEQ facilities in New Zealand are privately operated.
The revised standard included many new requirements. The most significant was a requirement for all facility operators to undertake specific training and to prepare an operating manual describing how they would comply with regulatory requirements. In addition, a new level of facility was introduced to the new standard, with the intention of decreasing capacity constraints on the PEQ system in New Zealand.
Challenges encountered by MPI throughout the review process, and during implementation of the new standard, will be discussed.