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Biosecurity New Zealand is urged tropical fish collectors and breeders to help trace genetically modified fish that had been imported illegally.

Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) officers seized and destroyed 300 tropical fish in raids on two Christchurch pet shops and two private premises in Christchurch in July 2007.

Biosecurity NZ incursion manager David Yard said the operation involved seizing and humanely euthanasing the fish after tests done in Britain confirmed they had been genetically modified with a red fluorescent protein to make them a bright red/pink colour.

Biosecurity was alerted ”several weeks ago” by concerned members of the public who noticed the zebra danio fish, a breed popular with ornamental fish enthusiasts, for sale on the internet.

It was thought the fish were either part of, or bred from, a consignment of about 400 red danio that was imported from Singapore in January this year and cleared by the Quarantine Service.

”The fish in question were cleared for entry at the time, due to an incorrect declaration by the importer who believed they were dyed red, rather than genetically modified,” Yard said.

”The importer’s belief they had been dyed was supported when the fish were examined under ultraviolet light and did not fluoresce or glow as is typical with this type of genetic modification.”

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Further information

Biosecurity Officers Seize 300 GM Fish in Christchurch New Zealand Press Agency (19th July 2007) >

Press Release MAF Biosecurity New Zealand Acts on GM Aquarium Fish in New Zealand (19th July 2007) >

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