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Busy summer for biosecurity officers

New Zealand’s border biosecurity defenders have just been through their busiest summer on record, said the Ministry for Primary Industries.

MPI biosecurity officers screened some two million passenger arrivals for risk goods between December and February, a five percent increase on last summer.

“It was a hectic few months, but we came into the season well prepared for the rush, including employing more than 70 new officers during the year,” said MPI border clearance director, Steve Gilbert. 

“Officers handed out nearly 4000 infringements to passengers with undeclared goods that could harbour disease pests or diseases.

“Most of these were for undeclared fresh produce, which can carry destructive fruit fly species.

“We made ten fruit fly interceptions during the summer – this proves the worth of our biosecurity defences, given the damage these insects can do to New Zealand horticulture,” Gilbert said.

He added that MPI officers also made record seizures of brown marmorated stink bug with more than 180 interceptions and more than 2000 individual bugs detected.

MPI has increased its scrutiny of cargo arriving from countries where the pest is established, with the number of consignments targeted for inspection increasing more than 100 percent. 

“There has been a huge spike in stink bug detections on imported vehicles and machinery from Japan that has so far resulted in four carriers being turned away from New Zealand this season,” Gilbert explained.


The numbers (December to February)

  • 2 million air passenger arrivals – 5% increase
  • 4930 undeclared seizures ­– 5% increase
  • 3111 seizures of undeclared fresh produce
  • 3983 infringements issued – 12% increase
  • 10 fruit fly interceptions
  • 1821 cargo consignments targeted for brown marmorated stink bug inspection – 103% increase.
  • 187 brown marmorated stink bug interceptions – 80% increase
  • 102 international yacht arrivals (26 detected with undeclared seizures)
  • 4 bulk carriers directed to leave New Zealand waters

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WID 2018