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Detector dog 'Watchman' has success at Auckland Airport

Detector dog 'Watchman' has success at Auckland International Airport

*28 July 2011*

On the day that Dog Squad returned to our television screens, our detector dog programme at the border has again proved its worth, with another successful biosecurity interception of melon halves and Cape Gooseberries.

Andrew Coleman, Acting Deputy Director-General Verification and Systems for the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry says these present a real threat because of the diseases or pests they could carry into New Zealand.

“In this case both fruit have the potential to carry fruit fly which can be a destructive species and could cause harm to New Zealand’s horticultural industry.

“Finding passengers carrying fresh fruit to eat in flight, or provide to those in New Zealand without declaring it, is always of real concern,” said Andrew Coleman.

**Fruit seizure**

A passenger returning to New Zealand failed to declare the plant materials he was bringing in through Auckland International Airport.

The passenger arriving early Monday 25 July, was stopped by Detector Dog Handler and Quarantine Inspector Moore, after her dog Watchman indicated on the jacket of the man and then on his stomach area.

The man produced two melon halves and then exposed a cloth belt around this waist, containing Cape Gooseberries. Another two melon halves were believed to have been disposed of by a passenger accompanying the man, after seeing him being questioned.

The patrolling of the passenger area and baggage hall by our inspectors, detector dogs and handlers is an integral part of our biosecurity system says Theresa Morrissey, MAF Director Verification Passengers. It is an important part of our newly introduced risk profiling to ensure we target the areas of greatest importance.

“Watchman and his handler Quarantine Inspector Moore’s fine work, lead to an interception and shows the system for international passengers is working.

“In this instance, we also suspect on the spot questioning by our inspector, may have led to the separate voluntary disposal of the two further melon halves.

“Biosecurity is a collaborative effort where we place considerable effort to encourage travellers to ‘declare or dispose’. However with this interception it shows our inspectors and our detector dog teams are successful in apprehending those who cheat the system,” says Theresa Morrissey.

MAF leads a biosecurity system that works on three fronts: working overseas to stop travellers and importers from bringing pests here; working at the border to identify and eliminate pests that do arrive; and working in New Zealand to find, manage or eliminate pests that have established here.

New Zealand’s biosecurity system is designed to balance the careful management of risks, with protecting our ability to trade and travel internationally.


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