20 May 2012

Taiwan checks on efficacy of fruit fly biosecurity

2:28 pm on 20 May 2012

A key export market, Taiwan, is asking for reassurances that the biosecurity response to the Queensland fruit fly discovered in Auckland is being correctly handled.

Discovery of a male fruit fly in the Auckland suburb of Avondale on 8 May sparked a major biosecurity operation.

Ministry of Primary Industry officials say Taiwan, which in 2010 was New Zealand's eleventh largest export market, wants more information about the response restrictions and wants to know if all fruit being sent to Taiwan is compliant with its own biosecurity rules.

It expects this will have no impact on trade.

So far, more than 900 kilograms of fruit has been destroyed and 400 traps have been set in the area surrounding where the fly was found.

New Zealand is the only major fruit-producing nation that has remained free of economically important fruit fly species.

Medfly sparked China bans

When there was an incursion in 1996 of another type of fruit fly, the Mediterranean species commonly known as 'medfly', market access restrictions were immediately applied by some trading partners.

Though the medfly was eradicated within a month of the initial detection, some trade bans lasted much longer, and China clamped down on NZ produce exports for about a year.

Since 2006 various species of fruit fly have been intercepted 53 times at the border, but no invasive population has established.

Queensland fruit fly has been detected twice before in New Zealand - in Northland in 1995 and in Auckland in 1996 - with no further sign of the pest when surveillance was stepped-up.