Biosecurity beagles greet trans-Tasman passengers
Arriving air passengers from Australia may be greeted by detector dogs as soon as they step off the plane under stricter biosecurity measures imposed by the Ministry for Primary Industries.
The move follows an outbreak of Mediterranean fruit fly in Adelaide.
The South Australian government has imposed a quarantine zone in the city following the discovery of the fly in home-grown peaches.
"Our intelligence team determined there was a biosecurity threat to New Zealand, so we’ve swung into gear very quickly," says Craig Hughes, MPI Manager, North Passenger and Mail.
He says the use of dogs at the arrival gate allows greater scrutiny of hand luggage – the most likely source of fruit and other “risk items” that could harbour fruit fly.
"In the past, passengers would not have come across a biosecurity detector dog until they had passed through customs.
"Moving detector dogs as close as possible to the arrival point is something international passengers are going to see a lot more of in the future.
"In addition to the extra dogs, the Adelaide outbreak has prompted a stricter approach to our risk assessment. If there is any doubt, passengers will be screened by x-ray and sent to our search benches.
"Over the last year, MPI has added 24 new detector dog teams and 90 new staff. It has also significantly boosted its intelligence-gathering capacity.
"One of the payoffs from this investment is having the capacity to ramp up border biosecurity when and where needed."