Summer vigil for biosecurity staff
The latest border biosecurity boost will help the Ministry for Primary Industries manage a swarm of new international flights and passengers this summer.
Last week, 57 new biosecurity staff, including 24 detector dog teams, graduated from their training at a ceremony in Auckland.
MPI and other border agencies are gearing for the busiest summer ever, says Steve Gilbert, MPI’s Border Clearance Director.
“There will be no summer holidays for many biosecurity staff working at the border. They will be hard at work ensuring fruit fly and other dangerous pests or diseases don’t make it into New Zealand.
“We are expecting to see record numbers of arriving passengers passing through most of New Zealand’s international airports.
“For example, we anticipate the busiest day for Auckland airport will be 3 January with between 18,000 and 20,000 arriving international passengers. The busiest day last summer saw fewer than 17,000 passengers pass through MPI’s biosecurity processes.”
He says MPI staff at Queenstown are expecting 2 January to be the busiest day with up to 1500 arriving international passengers. The busiest day last summer saw around 1170 passengers greeted by biosecurity staff.
The busiest period for Christchurch airport staff is likely to be the week ending 3 February with more than 21,000 predicted international arrivals, an eight percent increase from last year, according to airport figures.
Wellington airport staff are tipped to be at their most busy next week, which could see up to 25,000 arriving international passengers.
Last summer, MPI checked 1,533,880 arriving international passengers for biosecurity risk goods.
New arriving flights to New Zealand starting in December include:
- A direct Air New Zealand flight from Buenos Aires to Auckland three times a week.
- A direct China Southern Airlines service from Guangzhou to Christchurch.
- A Philippine Airline service operating from Manila to Auckland.
“Each new service brings its own biosecurity risks. For example, the Buenos Aires service is likely to carry backpackers who have been camping and hiking, exposing them to pests and diseases from the wild or farmland that could harm our economy or natural environment,” says Mr Gilbert.