Busy summer for frontline biosecurity officers

Media contact: MPI media team
Telephone: 029 894 0328

New Zealand's border biosecurity defenders have just been through their busiest summer on record, says the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

MPI biosecurity officers screened some 2 million passenger arrivals for risk goods between December 2017 and February 2018, a 5% increase on last summer.

"It was a hectic few months, but we came into the season well prepared for the rush, including employing more than 70 new officers during the year," says MPI border clearance director Steve Gilbert. 

"Officers handed out nearly 4,000 infringements to passengers with undeclared goods that could harbour disease pests or diseases. Most of these were for undeclared fresh produce, which can carry destructive fruit fly species."

"We made 10 fruit fly interceptions during the summer. This proves the worth of our biosecurity defences, given the damage these insects can do to New Zealand horticulture."

He says MPI officers also made record seizures of brown marmorated stink bugs with more than 180 interceptions and more than 2,000 individual bugs detected.

MPI has increased its scrutiny of cargo arriving from countries where the pest is established, with the number of consignments targeted for inspection increasing more than 100%. 

"There has been a huge spike in stink bug detections on imported vehicles and machinery from Japan that has so far resulted in 4 carriers being turned away from New Zealand this season," says Mr Gilbert.


December to February

  • 2 million air passenger arrivals – a 5% increase.
  • 4,930 undeclared seizures ­– a 5% increase.
  • 3,111 seizures of undeclared fresh produce.
  • 3,983 infringements issued – a 12% increase.
  • 10 fruit fly interceptions.
  • 1,821 cargo consignments targeted for brown marmorated stink bug inspection – a 103% increase.
  • 187 brown marmorated stink bug interceptions – an 80% increase.
  • 102 international yacht arrivals (26 detected with undeclared seizures).
  • 4 bulk carriers directed to leave New Zealand waters.
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