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Fruit fly investigation nears end

Fruit fly investigation nears end

17 April 2014

Provided no further Queensland fruit flies are found in Whangarei, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) looks set to announce an end to its response in the area on Easter Sunday morning.

The Ministry has been in active response since the detection of a Queensland fruit fly in a surveillance trap in the suburb of Parihaka on April 1. The Queensland fruit fly is a significant pest of many horticultural crops and home gardens.

Within hours of identification, personnel were in the field setting up an extensive network of traps to painstakingly search for any signs of a fruit fly population in the area.

In addition, residents within a circular Controlled Area extending out 1.5km from the location of the find were asked not to move any whole fruit or certain vegetables out of the area. This was in case further flies were present, and designed to prevent spread of the pest out of the area.

MPI Chief Operations Officer Andrew Coleman says all MPI’s field work (the trapping, checking of fallen fruit and home orchards and the Controlled Area) are set out in an internationally-accepted Response Standard. This Standard requires that the response traps and movement controls on produce must be in place for a full 14 days with no fruit fly detections.

“We remain on alert for the possibility that there could be a last-minute detection of further flies and the response team will swing into action, should this be the case.

“However, we hope to be able to publicly notify the community on Sunday morning (20 April) that we have had the all-clear and the Controlled Area Notice is revoked and people can go about their business as usual.”

Mr Coleman says the Ministry is currently cautiously optimistic that the trapped fly was a single detection. There have been four previous Queensland fruit fly trap detections in New Zealand and in all cases no breeding population of the flies was found.

He says the community support for the restrictions on produce movement has been heartening, particularly given that almost the same area of Whangarei was subjected to similar controls when a Queensland fruit fly was found there in January this year.

“We do not know how these two flies entered New Zealand, but the Ministry is carrying out investigations into possible entry routes.”

Full information on the Queensland fruit fly is at: http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/pests/queensland-fruit-fly

There will be no update posted to MPI’s website on Good Friday 18 April or Saturday 19 April unless there is a significant development such as a new detection. MPI expects its next public information to be notification of the lifting of the Controlled Area on Sunday 20 April, provided there is no new detection in the meantime.

ENDS

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