Commercial beekeepers to be compensated

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Compensation will be paid to commercial beekeepers whose hives and bees are destroyed as attempts to contain the deadly varroa mite continue.

The NSW and federal agriculture ministers met on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the response to the discovery of the mite, which was first detected at the Port of Newcastle last week.

About 600 beehives have so far been destroyed and eight properties infected as NSW continues attempts to contain the outbreak.

Eradication zones are in place from the city of Newcastle north to Seaham, with another around Bulahdelah.

NSW Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders says about 600 hives have been destroyed so far, with as many as 30,000 bees affected in each hive.

Around 440 beekeepers have been impacted, with Mr Saunders telling AAP commercial operators who have had their hives destroyed will be compensated.

“Registered commercial beekeepers will be compensated for all essential equipment, hives and bees that are destroyed through this process,” he said.

“This support will be shared by industry and the state and commonwealth governments.”

But the minister said at this stage no compensation is on offer for recreational apiarists.

“We know that recreational beekeepers will play a big role in helping to help prevent the further spread of varroa mite,” the minister told AAP on Thursday.

“They aren’t included in the current compensation agreements. We are looking at what support we can provide them if there is a need for it.”

Neither federal nor NSW ministers were able to confirm how much would be paid to commercial beekeepers or the size of the compensation package on offer, but discussions on reimbursement costs are underway.

Mr Saunders said on Wednesday he was optimistic the pest could still be eradicated.

“If the teams can get on top of things quite quickly, then the situation can be managed,” he told a media conference.

Mr Saunders said he and the federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watts agreed the best way to protect the country from the current incursion was to eradicate the mite.

– AAP

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