Biosecurity rules beefed up to keep stink bug pest out

The new regulations would apply to this year's stink bug season, which starts on 1 September and runs until 30 April.
The new regulations would apply to this year's stink bug season, which starts on 1 September and runs until 30 April. Photo credit: Getty

Biosecurity rules are to be tightened up to guard against a pest which could cause major problems for our horticulture and viticulture industries.

The brown marmorated stink bug has the potential to devastate the fruit, vegetable and wine industries, and could put a multi-billion dollar hole in our economy.

In January Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor asked authorities to look at ways of dealing with the increasing threat posed by the bug after a solo stink bug was found in Tauranga.

Twenty-six of the bugs were also discovered in a box of imported shoes, bought by an eBay customer in Oamaru.

Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor asked authorities to look at ways of dealing with the increasing threat posed by the bug.
Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor asked authorities to look at ways of dealing with the increasing threat posed by the bug. Photo credit: Getty

Biosecurity New Zealand has now provisionally released new rules intended to keep the bug out of New Zealand.

Under the new rules, the list of countries that have requirements to treat imported vehicles, machinery and parts before they arrive in New Zealand would rise from 17 to 33. These countries have all been identified as having stink bug populations.

The other big change would be imported cargo relating to vehicles would need to be treated off-shore, including sea containers. 

Biosecurity New Zealand spokesperson Paul Hallett said only uncontainerised vehicle cargo has required offshore treatment in the past, and off-shore treatment requirements would also apply to all sea containers from Italy.

"The new rules are intended to reduce the biosecurity risk to New Zealand, by ensuring potentially contaminated cargo arrives as clean as possible," he said.

He said Biosecurity New Zealand was planning to have officers based in Europe this season to educate manufacturers, treatment providers and exporters about the new requirements and to audit facilities.

"If our checks find any issues, New Zealand will not accept any cargo from that facility until the problem has been fixed," said Hallett.

The changes would mean New Zealand's treatment requirements are now closer to Australia's, which will make compliance easier for importers bringing cargo to both countries.

"A key difference is that the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources will continue to allow treatment on-arrival for containerised goods."

"In addition, the stink bug season in Australia will run a month longer than ours. This is because warmer climatic and daylight conditions could allow stink bug to establish later in Australia."

The new regulations would apply to this year's stink bug season, which starts on 1 September and runs until 30 April.

The release of the new import health standard is provisional for 10 days from 5 July, and interested parties who provided a submission can contest the new rules during this period.

Newshub.

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz