More yacht checks after fruit fly detections

  • 17/09/2014

New Zealand is tightening its borders by increasing scrutiny of yachts arriving in Northland this summer after two Queensland fruit fly detections in Whangarei this year.

Eight extra quarantine inspectors will be working in Northland in "rummaging teams", from October to mid-December when the bulk of yachts arrive.

"They will carry out a greater number of intensive inspections, adding another layer of assurance to the existing biosecurity process," says Sharon Tohovaka, the north ports manager for the Ministry for Primary Industries.

MPI is also training detector dogs, working with locals, the navy and air force and contact yachties before they come to New Zealand.

Restrictions on the movement of fruit and vegetables were put in place in Whangarei in April and in January when single Queensland fruit flies were discovered.

The insect has the potential to devastate New Zealand's horticulture industry but so far a population has not been established.

The extra surveillance of yachts is a bid "to ensure that the gate is closed on this pathway".

MPI is trialling the use of detector dogs for yacht clearances with the aim of getting dogs up to Opua and Marsden Point for the arrival season.

MPI is also working with the navy and air force to increase surveillance of yachts approaching New Zealand's coastline.

For the first time since 2010, inshore patrol vessels will include MPI border clearance staff among the crews.

"We will be actively preventing any yachts that may try to stop on the coast before reaching their official first port of arrival where they undergo biosecurity checks," says Ms Tohovaka.

"Although this practice is rare, it opens the door for dangerous pests to jump ship."

MPI has been working with Northland iwi to bring more people into the Coast Watch programme, which encourages reports of unusual events on the coast.

MPI will send quarantine inspectors this season to the two main yacht gathering points in the South Pacific - Musket Cove in Fiji and Vava'u in Tonga.

Fruit and vegetables are New Zealand's fourth-largest export earner at just over $2.5 billion a year and the industry provides 50,000 jobs.

NZN

source: newshub archive