Tuesday, 19 February 2019 16:22

Minister cuts short overseas visit

Written by 
Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor. Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor.

Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor is cutting short an overseas visit and returning home following the discovery of a new fruit fly in Auckland.

A statement from O’Connor’s office says he’s returning early from a trade trip in Dubai and will be on-site in Otara on Wednesday morning.

O’Connor wasn’t expected back in the country until Friday.

A second type of fruit fly, (Bactrocera facialis - the “facialis fruit fly”) was found in a surveillance trap in the South Auckland suburb.

This fly is a different species to the Queensland fruit fly and the detection is not related to the current Devonport situation, where restrictions are in place following the discovery of a fruit fly a week ago.

O’Connor says the second find of an unwanted fruit fly is disappointing and the Government is committed to ensuring it doesn’t establish here.

“Getting rid of the fruit fly is New Zealand’s most well-oiled biosecurity response. We’ve been here several times before and each time we’ve successfully got rid of this horticultural pest,” O’Connor said.

“There will be cross agency support for Biosecurity NZ to ensure it can call on all the resources it needs given the fruit fly responses alongside Mycoplasma bovis.

As part of the country’s multi-layered biosecurity system, the 7500 traps that lure the fruit fly for early detection during this summer risk season have done their job, says O’Connor. 

“While Biosecurity New Zealand’s work is independently audited each year, it’s important we learn and evolve our biosecurity system and I strongly support its extra check of air passenger and cruise pathways. This will happen in the next few weeks.

“Two fruit flies is not an incursion as we saw in 2014 when the fruit fly was found twice in Whangarei, but we can’t be too careful and as the response ramps up I urge the local community to be vigilant.”

Fruitfly is a pest that could significantly harm our $5.5 billion horticulture sector; the Government is committed to do what it takes to keep it from establishing here.

“As I saw first-hand earlier this week in Devonport, the Queensland Fruit Fly response has been well-coordinated and communicated, as noted by horticulture industry groups, and this response will not be affected by the new find,’ says O’Connor.

“We acknowledge this may be disruptive to the local community and businesses. Your cooperation is appreciated and any loss caused by the response will be compensated. 

“Ever more visitors, a changing climate and more trade all contribute to biosecurity risk and this is the reason we are strengthening the system, including an extra $10 million at the Budget to bolster our systems offshore, and why we’re overhauling our 25-year-old Biosecurity Act to make it fit for the future we face. 

“It is also the reason we take a tough approach at the border when people, mistakenly or not, have fruit or veggies on them,” O’Connor said.

 

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