Biosecurity New Zealand has sent a stark message to shippers, agents, and importers that imported cargo must meet new rules intended to keep brown marmorated stink bugs out of New Zealand.
"The importing industry needs to be aware that high-risk cargo that hasn't been treated before arrival will not be allowed to come ashore in most instances," says Biosecurity New Zealand spokesperson Paul Hallett.
"The aim is to keep out a highly invasive pest that could devastate New Zealand's horticulture industry if it established here."
Biosecurity New Zealand formally issued new import rules on 22 July. They require off-shore treatment of imported vehicles, machinery, and parts from 33 identified risk countries, and all sea containers from Italy during the stink bug season.
In the past, only uncontainerised vehicle cargo from risk countries required treatment before arriving in New Zealand.
Biosecurity New Zealand is concerned that some importers and shippers may be unaware of the new rules.
"We can give advice on approved off-shore treatment providers where necessary. Industry should also be aware that sensitive goods that would be damaged by fumigation or heat treatment can be managed by on-arrival inspection in some cases."
Mr Hallett says Biosecurity New Zealand will work closely with industry to address any operational concerns about the changes.
He is optimistic the rules will reduce clearance delays for cargo this season.
"There will be a lot less treatment required onshore, which should speed up the time it takes to get cargo released once it arrives in New Zealand."
Similar to previous years, this season will see increased surveillance and inspection of arriving vessels and cargo from countries with established stink bug populations.
"Ultimately, if officers determine a ship is infested with stink bug, it could be prevented from discharging its cargo and directed to leave New Zealand."
Last season, Biosecurity New Zealand turned away 4 contaminated vessels from New Zealand waters and intercepted 151 live stink bugs at the border.
The stink bug season runs from September to April.