Response to fruit fly in Devonport too slow says North Shore MP Maggie Barry

Response to fruit fly in Devonport too slow says North Shore MP Maggie Barry
Photo credit: Newshub

Quarantine officers are out in force in Auckland following the discovery of a Queensland fruit fly, but there are concerns Biosecurity New Zealand's been too slow off the mark.

The seaside village of Devonport is at the centre of a surveillance operation to find out if there's been an incursion of the pest.

A sunny Saturday brings a steady stream of visitors to and from Devonport. On Saturday, this seaside spot, is at the centre of a biosecurity alert.

Ferry passengers are having fruit and vegetables confiscated as they leave the area.

In spite of this bag checking, North Shore MP Maggie Barry says not enough has been done.

"I think the response has been a bit slow to be honest, as the local MP I would have hoped to have been informed that this was coming up so I could help spread the word. 

"The fruit fly was found in this street on Thursday, this is day three, there's still no signage up," Ms Barry told Newshub.

Locals are sketchy on detail. Anthony Sanderson, manager of the café Corelli's said information hadn't been forthcoming.

"If they're serious about it they should have come and spoken to us and told us what the regulations are and what we should and shouldn't do."

Mayor Phil Goff says they're getting the word out.

"We hope it's isolated, we've had not evidence that it's not isolated yet but what we don't want to do is run the risk of spreading it, that damages our industry, our exports, it costs us billions of dollars," Mr Goff said.

Minister for Biosecurity Damien O'Connor told Newshub the operation speaks for itself:

"It's day two of the fruit fly response and there are 55 staff, 160 extra traps, a mobile lab, and dozens of signs, flyers, door knocks and public notices because this is a well-oiled response that Biosecurity New Zealand has managed six times over the past decade. 

"No MP of any stripe should try and insert themselves in the middle of it for the sake of cheap political point scoring, which risks detracting hard-working staff from the important task at hand, which includes preventing the fruit fly from establishing here."

A large field operation is underway, 35 biosecurity officials are out on the street, handing out leaflets and talking to locals.

And 150 traps are being installed to catch any more if they're out there.

Horticulture New Zealand says the Queensland Fruit Fly is the number one threat to the industry, but they believe the plan is working well.

This is the first level response to the threat, but it will take a keen eye from the locals to help ensure there aren't any other fruit flies in the area.