Concealed fighting fish seized at border

2 July 2008

The interception of six live Siamese fighting fish in a parcel at the International Mail Centre in Auckland highlights an on-going problem, says MAF Biosecurity New Zealand.

Biosecurity officials intercepted the parcel en route from Thailand on 9 May. It was declared as containing “Aroma” and addressed to a Newmarket shop. The fish were found individually packed in water in small plastic bags and tin foil inside a polystyrene container.

“The packaging appeared like an attempt to conceal the fish,” says MAF International Mail Centre Manager Kerry McGuire.

MAF Biosecurity New Zealand will not be taking legal action against the importer. Inquiries revealed she had paid a deposit for the fish, but had put the order on hold pending completion of biosecurity risk enquiries. She later tried to cancel payment when nothing further was heard from the Thai exporter.

The importer did not know why the contents of the package were declared as “Aroma” in the declaration. She was informed of the concealment and that it was a possible attempt to avoid detection at the border of potentially risk items.

In this case, we’re satisfied that the woman did not have involvement in the illegal import of biosecurity risk goods, says Mr McGuire.

“However, incorrectly declared parcels, either mistakenly or in a deliberate attempt at concealment, are an on-going concern.

“We regularly intercept undeclared seeds from Asia, and meat and poultry products.”

He says International Mail Centre staff have intercepted two or three parcels containing live fish over the last few years.

“Perhaps if people knew that they were handing out death sentences when they illegally sent live animals to New Zealand without the correct documentation, they would think twice about it.

“We want to protect New Zealand from exotic pests and diseases. People receiving goods from overseas should know that we x-ray every parcel entering New Zealand.”

The six Siamese fighting fish have since been humanely euthanised.

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William Minchin
Senior Communications Adviser
Ph 04 894 0164 or 029 894 0164

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