International yachts arriving in Northland this summer will face additional biosecurity checks by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).
MPI is teaming up with New Zealand Customs and the NZDF focusing on Northland as the arrival point for most international yachts visiting New Zealand.
MPI is expecting nearly 500 craft to arrive in the region this season.
"Our main objective is to stop fruit fly entering New Zealand. But there are also other everyday items carried by vessels that have biosecurity risks, including various foods carried in the stores. We even come across live animals from time to time," says James Reed, MPI Team Manager, North Ports.
Similar to previous seasons, MPI has sent extra staff to the region to allow intensive inspection of incoming vessels, says Mr Reed.
MPI quarantine officers will also coordinate directly with the Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft and the Royal New Zealand Navy's Seasprite helicopters to carry out surveillance from the Northland coastline.
"Our Orion aircraft provide early warning of yacht arrivals while the Seasprite conducts surveillance of the Northland coastline to ensure all vessels have been checked," says Air Commodore Darryn Webb, the Air Component Commander.
Mr Reed says the NZDF's surveillance missions will help identify incoming yachts and any that attempt to seek shelter in local coastal bays prior to arriving at their designated port of arrival – an offence under the Biosecurity Act.
"Small craft intending to enter New Zealand are required to submit advanced notice advising their intended place of arrival and providing detail about the vessel and crew.
"They are then required to be cleared by MPI officers at a designated port of first arrival that is geared up to handle any biosecurity risk."