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Government to step up efforts as second Queensland fruit fly detected

Thursday 21st February 2019

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The government will step up efforts in Auckland to protect the country's $6 billion horticulture export industry after the discovery of a second male Queensland fruit fly on the North Shore.

The solitary male fly was collected from a fruit fly trap yesterday and is the second Queensland fruit fly found recently. The first was detected in a surveillance trap in Devonport on Feb.14.  A single male Facialis fruit fly, a native of Tonga, was also recently detected in Otara. A large field operation is also underway in that area. 

Ministry for Primary Industries director general Ray Smith says while there have now been two finds of the Queensland fruit fly, it does not mean New Zealand has an outbreak.

“We are totally focused on finding out if there is an incursion of the Queensland fruit fly in these areas. At the moment, these are two single males found quite some distance apart, and there’s no evidence of a breeding population," he said.

New Zealand is currently free of the fly, but if it gained a foothold it could have a devastating impact on the horticulture export industry, forecast to reach $6 billion in the year to June.

The flies spoil many crops, often rendering them inedible and New Zealand could also face trade restrictions. At risk are all citrus fruits, all stone fruit, pears, passionfruit, feijoa, grapes, guava, blackberry, boysenberry, cape gooseberry, custard apple, quince, persimmon, crab-apple, loquat, kumquat, pumpkin, olives, avocado, tomato, eggplant, and capsicum.

The insect can be difficult to catch at the border because it can arrive as eggs or tiny larvae concealed inside fruit.

Hundreds of fruit fly traps will be checked daily and monitoring of the greater Auckland region will be stepped up following the latest discovery, said Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor. 

“I have asked Biosecurity New Zealand to check the hundreds of traps within the North Shore area of Auckland by the weekend instead of the internationally accepted practice of once a fortnight, then to expedite a check of all 2,000 Queensland fruit fly traps across Auckland," he said.  

The government is committed to "tracking down and keeping New Zealand free of the harmful fruit fly, as we’ve done several times before including in 2015 when $16 million was spent to get rid of a breeding population of 14 flies and larvae," he said. 

MPI's Smith said he has commissioned an independent assurance review of our air and cruise passenger pathways.

“Biosecurity New Zealand deals with dynamic challenges. Changing trade and traveller patterns, climate change and emerging technologies mean we have to continually evolve our biosecurity system. Advice from the independent assurance review will be invaluable," he said. 

(BusinessDesk)



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