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18 June 2001
New instant $200 fines came into force at New Zealand borders today.
Passengers caught with undeclared risk goods such as fruit, plant or animal products that could threaten New Zealand's environment and economy will be fined. The fines will be enforced at New Zealand air and seaports.
The fines are designed to send a strong signal to all passengers that they must take responsibility for declaring risk goods when they enter New Zealand. The presence of a serious unwanted organism in New Zealand is more likely to arise from passenger negligence rather than goods imported through official channels.
People who exhibit a blatant attempt to smuggle goods and where it can be proven a false declaration was knowingly made can still incur a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and $100,000 in fines.
There is a high level of non-compliance at the borders. A substantial number of people entering New Zealand at ports of entry are detected with undeclared goods. A MAF conducted survey of passenger arrivals during a 35- week period from 6 July 1998 to 1 March 1999 indicated that that on average 510 people per week would have been issued with an infringement notice if they had been in place.
MAF anticipates that the proportion of travellers offending will decline with the introduction of instant fines and the implementation of a new biosecurity education programme.
The fines are instant because the large number of false declarations made at the border is well beyond the capacity of both MAF and the court system to prosecute via any other legal system.
Infringement notices for biosecurity purposes are operated in a number of countries including Australia, the United States and Canada.
For further information contact Frank Sheehan, MAF Quarantine Service on 09-256-6406