Travellers returning from Rugby World Cup urged to look out for sneaky stink bug pest

New Zealanders travelling to the Rugby World Cup in Japan are being urged to keep an eye out for an unwanted hitchhiker which could devastate the agriculture industry.

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) is not currently established in New Zealand but is a major concern to primary industry groups because it can destroy fruit and vegetable crops.

Biosecurity Minister, Damien O'Connor said with the high-season for the bug underway, biosecurity officials were on high alert to keep it out of the country.

"The high season runs until April 30 and we've strengthened our measures to stop stink bug establishing itself here," he said.

The pest has the potential to devastate the fruit, vegetable and wine industries, and could put a multi-billion-dollar hole in our economy.
The pest has the potential to devastate the fruit, vegetable and wine industries, and could put a multi-billion-dollar hole in our economy. Photo credit: Getty

He said the reminder was especially important for New Zealanders travelling to Rugby World Cup matches. 

"A recent swarm of green stink bug and yellow-spotted stink bug have occurred in Kobe, Japan," said O'Connor. 

He said Biosecurity NZ staff based there would continue to ensure measures were in place to keep the risk offshore as much as possible.

"It's a sneaky pest that we've caught at the border many times, hitchhiking on passengers and in imported goods. They're a damaging economic pest and a significant household nuisance."

In January 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.

"In the past few months we've increased the number of additional BMSB risk countries from 16 to 33 and we've upped our mandatory pre-arrival treatment requirements for targeted vehicles, machinery and parts.''

Biosecurity NZ was also working more closely with its Australian counterparts to identify risk offshore and co-ordinate their actions.

"We're also sending Biosecurity NZ staff overseas to visit and audit treatment providers, shippers and freight forwarders in Europe.

"Elsewhere, we've made it clear to all cruise ship operators that they have to show they've taken measures to prevent pests arriving here by using our accreditation system and we're working on hi-tech scanning equipment to find the bug in luggage and mail."

Three dogs had also been trained specifically to find stink bugs.

Biosecurity officials said anyone who may have found a brown marmorated stink bug should catch it and call 0800 80 99 66  immediately.

Newshub.

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