Queensland melon imports suspended after unwanted disease found

The disease was detected during a routine border check.
The disease was detected during a routine border check. Photo credit: Getty

Biosecurity officials have suspended the imports of fresh melons from Queensland after the discovery of a disease which could have a serious impact on some New Zealand growers.

"Biosecurity NZ detected cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (CGMMV) following routine border testing on Friday of a consignment of watermelons from Queensland Australia," said Biosecurity NZ's plants and pathways director Peter Thomson.

CGMMV does not pose a risk to human health however, if introduced to New Zealand it could have a serious impact on local production of cucurbit crops. 

The virus can deform young leaves and damage fruit and affects cucurbit fruit, including watermelon, cucumber, honeydew melon, rock melon, scallopini, zucchini, and pumpkin.

There was no suggestion the disease was in New Zealand. 

"As a precautionary measure, Biosecurity NZ has suspended imports of fresh cucurbit fruit from Queensland," said Thomson.

The suspension currently affects several melon consignments that have been placed on hold at the border. 

Biosecurity NZ was working with the importers to determine whether or not their product will be able to enter the New Zealand market.

"We are also working closely with Australian authorities who have agreed to not issue export certificates for any new consignments until they have investigated the situation and taken corrective measures," he said.

The length of the suspension would depend on how quickly Australian authorities could investigate the situation and put measures in place to assure New Zealand that their product is free from the disease.

"The import season for water, honey, and rockmelons from Australia ends shortly. This will reduce any impact of the suspension for New Zealand consumers."

The suspension does not currently affect imports of fresh cucurbit species from other Australian states.