Peak body Horticulture New Zealand has dismissed claims the country’s export trade could be under threat, despite the discovery of a fourth adult fruit fly within the Auckland area in the space of the last week.
Growers and exporters from the Oceanic nation were placed on alert last Tuesday (17 February) after New Zealand’ Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) announced that a single male Queensland fruit fly (Q-Fly) had been caught in a surveillance trap in the Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn. MPI moved quickly to control a potential outbreak, setting up an exclusion zone around where the fly had been discovered, limiting the movement of fresh produce within this area.
While MPI initially thought it was an isolated discovery, another male and a female were found nearby on Saturday, along with larvae and pupa. Fairfax Media has reported that a fourth adult Q-Fly had been discovered within the exclusion zone over the course of the weekend.
Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Peter Silcock said the detections had been concerning, although he had the upmost confidence in MPI’s ability to resolve the situation with minimal disruption to the fresh produce industry.
“We are actually confident, these look like they're coming through the same source, they're close together and therefore we're confident that the work MPI is doing out in the field is going to eradicate this," Silcock told Radio New Zealand. "We haven't had any indications at this stage from (export) markets, I think they understand that we're doing all that we should be doing, following really international protocols around this and how people respond to fruit fly finds in their countries. So we're expecting them to accept what we're putting forward and the assurances that MPI are providing."
The Grey Lynn discoveries mark the fourth detection of Q-Fly in New Zealand in the past three years, although all three previous cases had been isolated male flies. Over 180 MPI staff were stationed in the Grey Lynn area over the weekend, setting new traps and publicising the outbreak.