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UK company escapes prosecution in moth eggs case

UK company escapes prosecution in moth eggs case

Forest and Bird today urged the government to address holes in the biosecurity system revealed by the moth egg import case.

The Auckland District Court today sentenced Mr Hollingsworth to 150 hours of community service, $5000 fine and $200 costs in relation to moth eggs that he illegally imported from the UK. The moths included the pale tussock moth, a relative of the painted apple moth.

"The introduction of new pests to New Zealand can cause irreversible damage and lead to extinctions," said Forest and Bird Biosecurity Awareness Officer Geoff Keey

"Eradicating new pests is difficult, expensive and can disrupt the lives of those who live in the area of an infestation. Mr Hollingsorth's actions were extremely irresponsible," Geoff Keey said.

"Forest and Bird hopes that Mr Hollingsworth's community sentence will be geared towards protecting the environment that he could have ruined with his irresponsibility," Geoff Keey said.

However, Forest and Bird is more concerned that the company that sent the eggs, Worldwide Butterflies, cannot be charged because it is UK based.

"These are crimes that cross borders, enforcement should cross borders too. It is simply outrageous that a UK company can breach New Zealand's biosecurity laws with impunity, putting New Zealand's environment at risk," Geoff Keey said.

"If governments want to promote globalisation and global trade, they need to take responsibility for the dangers such trade poses to the environment. It's time that the government explored options for prosecuting overseas companies that put New Zealand's environment at risk," Geoff Keey said.

"The question of how packets of moth eggs made it through the biosecurity system without being found also needs to be answered. That major breach of New Zealand's biosecurity system will concern all those who care about protecting New Zealand's natural heritage," Geoff Keey said.

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