New Zealand fruit and vegetable growers should continue to have confidence in the ongoing investigations into Auckland fruit fly detections, says the horticulture-wide group set up to jointly prepare for and respond to the potential impacts of fruit fly.
Fruit Fly Council chair Stu Hutchings said that the responses set up in Otara, Devonport, and Northcote were running well and were following the pre-agreed operational plans established and tested in previous responses.
Council members are also involved the decision-making process ensuring the interests of New Zealand’s primary producers are represented fully.
“These fruit fly finds are of great concern for our industries and that’s why we’re part of the governance group leading the investigations, ensuring the most appropriate action is taken to minimise any impact on growers and our wider industry," said Hutchings. “It’s been a priority since the day of the very first find for us all to work together in the best interests of our growers and do everything we can to determine whether there are more flies in the area, and if so, stop them from spreading any further.
“To date, despite the additional finds, there is no evidence of a breeding population and that is good news that can give us continued confidence in our biosecurity system, as well as the response actions taken so far," he continued. “More than 10,000 kilos of fruit has been collected in the bins placed in the three affected response regions and disposed of. Additionally, a significant amount of fruit - around 800 kilos - has been gathered from properties within the A zones for each of the three responses and examined for larvae, without any findings.
“All the flies have been found in traps, which are very sensitive and an internationally proven method of surveillance. If there is a breeding population present, there is a high likelihood of finding it as the response continues over the coming days.”
Hutchings added that although the trapping results reflected well on New Zealand’s surveillance system, the Fruit Fly Council backs MPIs recently announced independent review of the air passenger, cruise and mail pathways.
“We fully support the review underway because although there will always be some risk of unwanted pests and diseases getting here, it’s absolutely imperative we do everything we can to try and stop them," he noted. "If there are any holes in the system currently, they need to be found and immediately fixed.
“All the members of the Fruit Fly Council will advocate for their growers in the review and make sure that any learnings that come from it are taken into account so that we can be certain going into the future that we have a robust biosecurity system.”