Fruit fly can still be eradicated – Horticulture NZ

  • Breaking
  • 23/02/2015

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says it has more than 180 staff working on containing the fruit flies found in central Auckland.

Four flies have been found so far in the suburb of Grey Lynn, and the situation has exporters worried.

"It's very serious when any flies have been found, but the fact we've got four and some larvae being found is very concerning," says Peter Silcock of Horticulture New Zealand.

He says a worst-case scenario would be the Queensland fruit fly establishing a widespread breeding population.

"What that would mean is that our members would have to take control measures continually, and incidentally home gardeners would have to as well. And most importantly, our export markets would require assurances that we're not exporting to them fruit infested with Queensland fruit flies."

It could also take time for exporters to comply with overseas requirements, he says.

But if the extent of the flies' spread is limited to central Auckland, Mr Silcock is confident it can be eradicated.

"I think MPI are doing a very good job on the ground there in Grey Lynn. We've got some industry people who are helping out there."

The incursion into New Zealand has two primary causes, says Mr Silcock: Australia's loss of control over the flies' spread, and weakened border controls here in New Zealand.

"Our biosecurity measures have changed, moving away from 100 percent baggage inspection… we've highlighted that issue, and we're going to continue talking with the Government about that."

Since the discovery of the first fly last week, MPI has increased the scanning rate and deployed sniffer dogs, but Horticulture New Zealand would prefer a return to 100 percent of passenger bags being X-rayed, at least until the end of summer.

"We can't really control what's happening in Australia, but we can control what's happening at our border."

New Zealand's horticulture industry is worth about $6 billion.

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