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Major pest discoveries at the Port of Auckland

23 February 2004

Major pest discoveries at the Port of Auckland

Two potentially devastating pest discoveries have been made within hours of each other at the Port of Auckland.

Stevedores working on a vessel at the port last night found 21 live Giant African Snails on a container and a short time later a car-ship was intercepted which contained four kinds of exotic moth.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry was alerted to the Giant African Snail discovery after the stevedores inspected containers on a vessel from Wallis and Futuna Islands.

MAF Container Programme Manager, Mike Fenton says this is an extremely important discovery.

He says Giant African Snails would be potentially devastating to this country’s vegetation if they became established.

The stevedores found three live snails on top of one of the containers and another eighteen more inside the vessel’s hold.

Mr Fenton says that MAF Quarantine Officers have now inspected the outside of all containers from the vessel and intercepted the remaining snails along with numerous eggs.”

“All containers unloaded from the vessel have been isolated on the wharf,” says Mr Fenton.

“MAF Quarantine Officers are currently conducting a detailed inspection of the outside as well as internal examination of each container. All snails and eggs have been removed and destroyed, and containers that harboured eggs have been directed for fumigation.”

Meanwhile, the moths were detected by stevedores unloading cars from the vessel Violet Ace. A MAF officer confirmed the presence of multiple moths on board and ordered that the ship be closed up and treated thoroughly with insecticide.

Giant African Snail, Achatina fulica, is considered to be one of the most damaging land snails in the world. It has a voracious appetite and has been recorded as attacking over 500 different kinds of plants.

Mr Fenton says the stevedores have received basic training under the new MAF accreditation programme for imported sea containers.

“This is one example of the new programme working in the field.” he says.

“The new system of accreditation of workers in the sea container pathway is part of the MAF’s policy of inspecting or checking all sea containers.”

“It allows for people such as stevedores, and those working at the port and at facilities that receive containers to assist MAF as the first line of defence at the country’s ports,” says Mr Fenton.

Ends

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