Busy month for biosecurity staff

Media contact: MPI media team
Telephone: 029 894 0328

Burgeoning visitor arrivals in May have seen biosecurity staff intercept a range of unusual and potentially alarming risk items at New Zealand airports and ports.

Recent figures from Statistics New Zealand show 176,700 visitors arrived in New Zealand in May, an increase of 10% on May 2014.

Ministry for Primary Industries staff intercepted 6733 items of biosecurity interest from arriving passengers during May. Of these, 5803 were declared.

Some of the notable interceptions include:

  • Dried frogs declared as food – seized from a woman arriving at Auckland airport from Bangkok.
  • Nearly 19kg of declared bananas, chilli, cabbage and other fresh food in the baggage of a passenger arriving at Auckland airport from Singapore.
  • Some undeclared fruit fly-infested chillies – seized from a French passenger arriving at Auckland airport. The passenger received a $400 fine.
  • A tiger tooth (declared) – seized at Wellington airport from a family arriving returning from India.
  • A haul of mung beans, chillies, eggs, and apples from a family that declared only pickles and bread upon arriving in Christchurch from India. The passenger responsible for filling out the arrival card received a $400 fine.

Andrew Spelman, MPI Border Clearance Manager, says the interceptions show "New Zealand border controls are working, but ram home the message that we need to stay vigilant".

He says rising numbers of international visitors increase the risk of unwanted pests and diseases entering New Zealand.

"It's one of the reasons why MPI is working on a programme to enhance its border controls for passengers following the government’s decision to increase funding in the recent budget."

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