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1 in 8 travellers declare biosecurity risk items

27 May 2002

One in eight inbound travellers declare biosecurity risk items

Newly released figures on the biosecurity clearance work carried out by MAF Quarantine Service (MAF QS) - currently being seen on TVNZ in the weekend reality TV series Border Patrol - show 425,000 airline passengers "did the right thing" and declared risk items on their arrival into New Zealand during the calendar year 2001.

The total number of passengers and crew who landed in New Zealand in 2001 was 3,559,900 which means that at least 1 in 8 passengers are taking biosecurity seriously. But not seriously enough, says MAF QS Director, Neil Hyde.

"Before any traveller packs a bag or boards a plane or vessel for New Zealand the first thing they should do is leave all prohibited biosecurity risk items behind - including virtually all food items and plant material. At the least any and all items a traveller might think of as being restricted should be packed at the top of their luggage in a plastic bag or in hand luggage.

Mr Hyde says actual seizures of goods that don't immediately comply with import requirements - both declared and undeclared - have been averaging more than 10,000 per month. Figures show that total fruit fly host seizures - basically fresh fruit - were on the decrease for the first time in several years, but the amount of seeds, bee products, meat and poultry products seized by MAF Quarantine Officers has risen.

Statistics from the second quarter of 2001-2002 also show that seizure of fruit fly host material was being overtaken as the most common seizure type by contaminated used equipment (being mainly items like soiled shoes) which had reached the level of 10-12 seizures per 1000 passengers.

A new set of statistics and an update on the impact of the instant fine regime introduced in June 2001 will be released next month in the run-up to New Zealand's first ever Protect New Zealand Week in the second week of July.

Individuals and organisations with an interest in biosecurity are being encouraged to get involved in the scheduled programme by organising their own activities and registering them on the Protect New Zealand website (see www.protectnz.org.nz)

Protect New Zealand is a government funded biosecurity awareness programme which has been campaigning for the travelling public to declare all biosecurity risk items at all times, and for all New Zealanders to play a role in biosecurity by being extra watchful for any suspected entry of a new invading pest or exotic disease. Both the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (animal and plant risks) and the Ministry of Fisheries (marine risks) operate 0800 biosecurity hotlines which will be promoted during July.

Ends

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