Passenger biosecurity continues to keep out high-risk goods

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A recent survey shows the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is continuing to stop international air passengers from bringing in goods with a high chance of damaging New Zealand’s biosecurity, and that its overall result across all risk goods has improved.

The survey, conducted in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, involved checking some 6800 passengers to see if they were carrying goods that pose a biosecurity risk after passing through airport checks.

The survey showed 98.8 percent of passengers who had been through checks were not carrying medium or high-risk goods, including materials that may host fruit fly or serious animal diseases.

The overall compliance result for all risk goods was 96.9 percent. MPI’s target is 98.5 percent. Last year’s result was 95.3 percent.

“We’ve done a lot work to improve our processes since the last report, andit’s great to see the survey results are heading in the right direction,” says MPI’s Steve Gilbert, Director Border Clearance Services.   

“It’s particularly pleasing to see we are keeping out the goods that are most likely to cause harm to New Zealand.”

Mr Gilbert says the shortfall was mostly due to low-risk items like used equipment, such as footwear contaminated with blades of grass getting past border checks. 

He says MPI is implementing recommendations from the survey to improve compliance.

In addition to this, MPI is continuing to invest in staff and resources to bolster biosecurity.

Initiatives include the recruitment of 32 new quarantine inspectors in August and plans to introduce 11 new x-rays machines from October.

MPI also plans to have six new dog teams in place by the end of the year.

The survey was conducted at Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington airports between 6 May and 21 June. The survey methodology and results were validated by an independent review.

The survey report is available on the MPI internet at http://www.mpi.govt.nz/Default.aspx?TabId=126&id=1996

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