New Zealand’s fresh produce industry is again on high biosecurity alert, after the discovery of a second Queensland fruit fly (Q-fly) in Whangarei within three months, according to media reports.
The New Zealand Herald claimed the discovery was made in a surveillance trap located just 400m from where another Q-fly was detected in January. In that instance, heavy restrictions were place on fruit and vegetable trade in the region while a large-scale response operation, involving close to 50 quarantine officials, was undertaken.
New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industry’s (MPI) does not believe the two cases are related, after the investigation into January’s incursion determined it was an isolated incident, with no breeding population of Q-fly. A new control area has been established, with the movement of fresh produce around Whangarei again restricted.
“As in January, it is vital we find out if the insect is a solitary find or if there is a wider population in Whangarei,” MPI spokesman Andrew Coleman told SkyNews. “This insect is an unwanted and notifiable organism that could have serious consequences for New Zealand's horticultural industry and home gardeners. It can damage a wide range of fruit and vegetables.”
January’s two-week response operation cost New Zealand taxpayers almost NZ$1m (US$850,000). New Zealand Green Party biosecurity spokesman Steffan Browning said this week’s discovery questioned the validity of the January campaign and the country’s biosecurity systems in general.
"Given that the last fruit fly was found in the same region only a few months ago it seems likely there is a connection,” Browning told the New Zealand Herald. "If it is the case that this fruit fly is linked to the previous incursion, then it raises serious concerns about MPI ending their January campaign early, before ensuring there were no other fruit fly in the region.”
Kiwifruit Vine Health chief Barry O'Neil said the discovery posed a low risk to the region’s kiwifruit crop, with no orchards within the control area.