In New Zealand, Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) chief executive Barry O’Neil has said that the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) should be congratulated for taking "the right action" in turning back ships that have arrived at the country's ports carrying "hundreds of unwanted pests".
“Over the last few days MPI has turned around two large cargo vessels because one of the most damaging pests to the kiwifruit and wider horticultural industries – the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) – was found hitchhiking on both ships and in used vehicles onboard.”
The BMSB is a pest that, according to KVH, could destroy New Zealand’s fruit and vegetable industries. It also infests homes, ruins gardens, and stinks when crushed, said Barry.
“It’s not in New Zealand yet and we want to keep it that way – we must do everything we can to keep it out," he continued. “That is why KVH is pleased with the ongoing diligence of MPI to detect these stink bugs at the border and we fully support the serious steps they have been taking to manage the risk of it getting here, including these recent cases of requiring treatment to take place offshore before allowing high-risk ships and cargo to enter and unload goods at our Ports.
“The decisions may not always be popular with those importing goods, but the rules are very clear, and they are stringent for a reason," O'Neil added. "Unwanted pests like the BMSB could cause hundreds of millions of dollars damage to the New Zealand economy and heavily affect growers’ livelihoods if it were to establish here.”
Working alongside MPI, industry groups including KVH have been working hard to raise awareness of the threat and potential impact of BMSB, including meetings with importers and transporters of machinery and other high-risk goods to ensure they are fully aware of the biosecurity measures they must take.
KVH has also been working with kiwifruit growers, Zespri, MPI and the wider kiwifruit industry to ensure preparedness for BMSB, if it were to arrive and establish itself in the country. This includes running awareness programmes and simulation exercises.