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Container inspections miss 95% of insects

Container inspections miss 95% of insects and spiders.

Forest and Bird is calling for a major upgrade in shipping container inspections following the release of a report by MAF that shows current door inspections of shipping containers miss 95% of insects and spiders.

"It's time for the government to stop pussyfooting around importers and make inspections work to protect New Zealand's environment," Forest and Bird Biosecurity Awareness Officer Geoff Keey said.

"New Zealand's native plants and animals need to be better protected from new pests and diseases or they will go extinct. New pests and diseases could mean no kakapo, no kiwi and no kowhai," he said.

"Forest and Bird is disappointed that the Importers Institute believes improving biosecurity will cost New Zealanders. Because of historically slack biosecurity rules, pests already cost New Zealand around 1 dollar in every 100, and that's not even counting the full environmental and social impacts of pests and diseases. Forest and Bird would welcome leadership from the importing sector on improved biosecurity," he said

"Slack biosecurity is costing the public right now. New Zealand taxpayers are forking out over $90M to eradicate the painted apple moth. Most people in West Auckland must wish that painted apple moth had been found at the border," he said.

"It is clear from the report that New Zealand's biosecurity system has not kept pace with changes in shipping. In the past it was easier for inspectors to check good because they would be offloaded onto the wharves. Now goods come off in containers which act as a passenger service for pests," he said.

"If the government is serious about meeting the goal of halting the decline in New Zealand's natural heritage, it will need to get serious about the threat posed by uninspected and uncleaned shipping containers," he said.

"These pests are a greater risk to New Zealand than any terrorist threat," he said.


Key measures Forest and Bird thinks are crucial are:

* Six sided inspections of all containers, before they leave the port for unpacking. * MAF inspectors checking every container when it is unpacked. * Electronic tracking and risk profiling of shipping containers. * Tough financial penalties for non-compliance. * Cost recovery to pay for increased inspections. The New Zealand Conservation Authority has estimated that the cost of pests and weeds to New Zealand is in the region of 1% of GDP. Pests and diseases are the number one threat to native plants and animals in New Zealand (excluding the oceans). New Zealand struggles to cope with the damage caused by existing pests.

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