Fireblight

(Erwinia amylovora)

Boundary Control Pest

Fireblight is an epiphytotic disease. It mainly infects apple and pear trees, but it is also hosted by hawthorn, cotoneaster, quince, loquat, medlar and pyracantha. It causes a blackening of the twigs, flowers and foliage, which resembles fire damage. The disease is transmitted by insects, birds, and contaminated orchard equipment.

Reasons for the Strategy

A brown branch on a tree with brown hanging leaves.

Overseas markets, such as Japan, Australia and South Korea, set special conditions to ensure pipfruit (apples and pears) imported come from Fireblight-free orchards. These conditions must be complied with for pipfruit growers to gain access to these markets. These conditions are reviewed by importing countries from time to time. The Fireblight management programme will apply to any pipfruit orchard in the Tasman-Nelson region. It will allow pipfruit growers to carry out surveillance and management of Fireblight within 500 metres of their orchard and enable growers to meet the requirements of obtaining accreditation to supply Fireblight-free fruit to markets with controlled access. This will provide economic benefits not only to growers, but to the regional economy. This regional benefit will outweigh the minimal cost to the Management Agency of administering the management programme.

Fireblight is assessed at “7” on the infestation curve. Extensive areas of suitable habitat, and the potential for it to cause significant adverse effects, mean the benefits of boundary control far outweigh the costs.

Objective

To control Fireblight up to 500 metres from pipfruit orchards to a standard required by the pipfruit industry as being clear of Fireblight in the Tasman-Nelson region within the term of the Strategy.

Alternative Measures

The alternative option of “do nothing” or relying on voluntary control will not allow pipfruit growers to meet the market requirements for Fireblight-free status. Controlling Fireblight on all hosts across the Tasman-Nelson region would be expensive and difficult. The small number of participating growers does not warrant this expense.

Strategy Rule for Fireblight

The occupiers of land within the 500 metre buffer zone of
pipfruit orchards shall either:

  1. destroy all adult and juvenile forms of Fireblight hosts within the buffer zone; or
  2. permit the entry of authorised persons for the purpose of control of Fireblight under Section 109 of the Act, and
  3. permit the entry of authorised persons for the purposed monitoring Fireblight under Section 109 of the Act.

A breach of Strategy Rule 7.5.5 is an offence under Section
154(r) of the Biosecurity Act 1993.

Explanation of Strategy Rule

If a pipfruit grower (the proposer) requests control of Fireblight hosts (as listed in 7.6.1) within 500 metres of their orchard, the grower will negotiate with the occupiers to either:

  1. obtain the acceptance of the occupier that they will undertake the necessary control of Fireblight infestations and that the reimbursement of agreed costs will be the responsibility of the proposer; or
  2. obtain consent from the occupier for access to be able to destroy Fireblight host plants, at the expense of the proposer; or
  3. obtain consent for an approved contractor to undertake the necessary control, at the expense of the proposer; or
  4. in the event that voluntary agreement cannot be agreed between the two parties, the Management Agency will attempt to facilitate agreement between the two parties. If agreement cannot be reached, enforcement proceedings will then be initiated for the Fireblight to be controlled. In such cases, responsibility for funding control works remains with the proposer; or
  5. where there are hawthorn hedges that are recognised by an informed body or supporting documentation as having regionally significant historic values, the pipfruit grower shall be allowed access for the purpose of inspecting for the incidence of Fireblight and, with the consent of the occupier, shall remove and control infected branches of hawthorn and undertake other agreed control measures. If the parties are unable to agree on a suitable pruner, the Management Agency will consider the issues and select a pruner with the appropriate skills to do the work, having regard to the preservation of the hedgerow integrity.

Funding Responsibility

As the main benefit of controlling Fireblight accrues to the participating pipfruit grower, they are responsible for the costs of controlling Fireblight in adjacent buffer zones. If the Management Agency has to intervene to undertake surveillance for and control of Fireblight, costs incurred will be a direct charge on the participating grower. This includes the costs of any technical advice sought by the Management Agency. Where an occupier in a buffer zone consents to the voluntary removal of Fireblight host plants from their land, the adjacent participating grower is responsible for compensation to cover the direct costs associated with the re-establishment or replacement of those plants, or a structure to replace the protection provided by those plants against wind, light or spray drift.

Biosecurity Act Requirement

No person shall knowingly sell, propagate, breed, release, or commercially display Fireblight, under Sections 52 and 53 of the Act.