'No question' jobs will be lost after stink bug crisis

Four ships have been turned away from New Zealand's ports after stink bugs were found on board.
Four ships have been turned away from New Zealand's ports after stink bugs were found on board. Photo credit: Reuters

There's "no question" jobs will be lost after four car-carrying ships were turned away from New Zealand's ports, according to an industry leader.

Three ships have already been redirected in the past month when stink bugs were found on board, with a fourth denied entry on Wednesday.

Vehicle Importers Association CEO David Vinsen told Newshub the situation would have major consequences for the car industry.

"It's already quite serious."

He says the logistics channel of New Zealand's vehicle importation will suffer the most. 

There is usually a two to three month 'buffer' of unsold stock, so the loss of four ships will have a significant impact. 

The people processing those vehicles face a "huge shortage of work", says Mr Vinsen, meaning many will be laid off. 

"Six to eight thousand vehicles are sitting there unloaded," he says. "It backs up the chain."

When the ships are eventually treated and allowed entry into New Zealand, the logistics channel will then have to handle a "huge glut of processing".

"Who knows what will happen?"

Despite the consequences for the car industry, Mr Vinsen says VIA fully supports MPI's actions in identifying the stink bugs as a biosecurity risk. 

Two different types of stink bug - brown marmorated and yellow-spotted - were found on board the most recent car carrier to attempt entry. 

Brown marmorated stink bugs have the potential to devastate the country's agriculture, as they feed on apples, raspberries, sweet corn, green beans and tomatoes, among other foods.

One of the infected ships set sail for Brisbane after being turned away from New Zealand, but the importer has been told it will not be allowed to berth in Australia.

Mr Vinsen says he heard on Wednesday night that Australia might allow the vehicles to be treated offshore in international waters, but this has yet to be confirmed.

A meeting between the principle players in the crisis, including MPI, VIA importers and the New Zealand ports, will take place on Thursday afternoon.