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Biosecurity Officers Face Busy Summer As International Travel Increases

Biosecurity New Zealand officers will be working hard this summer to ensure increased international travel does not lead to unwanted pests and diseases entering the country.

Air passenger volumes are rebounding strongly since the covid travel restrictions were lifted, says Biosecurity New Zealand’s Northern Regional Commissioner, Mike Inglis.

“More travellers mean more risk goods arriving at international airports. Just last week, our officers seized undeclared items from passengers at Auckland Airport, including sandwiches or burgers, apples, bananas, oranges, sliced cucumber and pork dumplings. Those seizures resulted in 22 infringement notices ($400 instant fines) being issued.

“Those fruit and the vegetable items could host pests and diseases that we don’t have here such as an exotic species of fruit fly, or in the case of the pork dumplings, foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).

“Our job is to keep out pests and diseases that could have a devastating impact on our economy and environment – things like FMD, African swine fever and brown marmorated stink bug.

“At the same time, we are very aware of the need to process passengers as efficiently as possible.”

Mr Inglis says arriving passengers can do their bit to streamline arrival processes and to help protect New Zealand.

“We ask anyone landing in New Zealand to make sure they have filled out their passenger arrival card correctly. This means declaring any goods that could have biosecurity risk. Any undeclared risk goods must be disposed in amnesty bins before passing through our checks.

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“Travellers should also consider what they bring into New Zealand and be mindful that anyone who brings biosecurity risk items may take longer to process.”

A comparison of passenger arrivals between November 2022 and 2021 shows how much Biosecurity New Zealand’s airport operations have changed since the removal of pandemic-related travel restrictions.

  • In November 2022, 422,598 international air passengers went through biosecurity checks compared with 12,075 in November last year.
  • Biosecurity officers seized 8862 items from arriving passengers in November compared with 172 in November 2021.
  • Officers issued 467 infringement notices in November this year. Only 14 were issued in November 2021.
  • Fresh produce and plant products were the most commonly seized undeclared items in November 2022 (399 items). Used equipment was the next highest (89), followed by cooked or pickled food products (51).

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