New Zealand’s fourth detection of Queensland fruit fly (Q-Fly) in the past three years has the country’s peak horticultural body calling for a crackdown on biosecurity surveillance.
Fruit and vegetable growers across the North Island were place on alert on Monday (16 September), after a single male fruit fly was caught in a surveillance trap in the Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn. New Zealand’s Ministry or Primary Industries (MPI) moved quickly to control the movement of fruit and some vegetables within a 1.5km radius of where the fly was trapped.
Horticulture New Zealand president Julian Raine praised the speed and extent of MPI’s response but insisted more needed to be done to prevent future breaches of biosecurity laws. “So far it is only one fly,” Raine explained. “However, it is not acceptable to go through this drama every summer. New Zealand horticulture deserves better protection.”
Raine said the problem partly stemmed from falling biosecurity standards across the Tasman Sea. Earlier this month, residents in the Australian city of Adelaide were told of a second Q-Fly detection within less than two months.“South Australia is supposed to be a Queensland fruit fly free state,” Raine noted. “Obviously the spread of this pest is out-of-control in Australia and the interstate regulators are powerless to stop its progression south.”
Horticulture New Zealand has proposed tighter checks on passenger baggage at the country’s international airports as a potential solution. “Reinstating the 100 per cent x-ray of passenger bags coming from across the Tasman would go a long way towards helping us improve our protection and lower this risk.”