Low-traffic quarantine facilities may be reduced

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Low-traffic quarantine facilities may be reduced under the latest move by the Ministry for Primary Industries to stop unwanted pests and diseases from entering New Zealand.

MPI is looking to revoke approval for "transitional facilities" that have been operating for a year without receiving containers or other cargo, says Stu Rawnsley, MPI Manager North Cargo.

"The move is about ensuring that private operators who deal with imported goods have the skills and experience to meet New Zealand's strict biosecurity standards.

"The fact is facilities that process low volumes of goods can find biosecurity requirements to be burdensome, which can lead to compliance issues and disproportionate costs for MPI."

Low-traffic facilities will escape closure if they can show they will receive goods in the future, but they will require MPI supervision to ensure they comply with biosecurity procedures, says Mr Rawnsley.

MPI will now also consider container volumes as part of the approval process for new quarantine facilities.

"Approvals will still be made on a case-by-case basis, but facilities that plan to only receive 6 or fewer containers each year are likely to find it harder to get approval," says Mr Rawnsley.

In a related move, MPI will introduce a flat charge of $887.70 in December for approving new facility operators. This replaces the current hourly rate charged for operator approval.

There are currently some 5,800 private quarantine facilities operating in New Zealand. They range from large commercial operations near major ports, to small businesses that rarely receive imported goods.

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