An air passenger who arrived in New Zealand with live Siamese fighting fish wasn’t joking when he declared “wet fish” to biosecurity staff from the Ministry for Primary Industries.
Arriving at Auckland Airport from Vietnam last weekend, the passenger was carrying 5 fish in plastic bags.
“The traveller’s English wasn’t very fluent and we initially thought he was carrying frozen or dried fish,” says David Sims, MPI Manager, Auckland Airport.
“It was a surprise when he pulled out the plastic bags.”
MPI seized the freshwater fish, which have since been humanely euthanised.
“We’re pleased the passenger knew to declare the fish. They came from an unknown source so may have been carrying diseases that could devastate local freshwater fish populations.
“It appears the message is getting through to international air passengers that they need to declare any biosecurity risk items when they arrive in New Zealand.”
Mr Sims says the interception is very unusual, although it’s not the first time MPI staff have seized live fish at the airport. In 2013, MPI prosecuted an air passenger after he was caught smuggling live tropical fish in his trouser pockets.