26 May 2012

Fruit fly biosecurity operation cost up to $2m

7:53 am on 26 May 2012

The Ministry for Primary Industries estimates it has spent up to $2 million on the biosecurity response to the Queensland fruit fly.

The ministry on Friday ruled out a possible infestation after extensive surveillance in an Auckland suburb failed to find any more of the species.

The biosecurity response began after the discovery on 8 May of the solitary male fruit fly in Avondale.

Residents had been told not to move any fresh produce outside a 1.5km zone where the insect was found.

The restrictions were lifted at 7am on Saturday and the ministry says precautionary notices, pamphlets, and bins for dumping fruit will be removed during the day.

Ministry spokesman Andrew Coleman says between 50 and 80 staff have been deployed on the surveillance and trapping operation and while some were engaged in their usual jobs, others had to be moved to Auckland.

He estimates the cost at between $1 million and $2 million.

Mr Coleman says the ministry will be reviewing its biosecurity response, including how it has worked with the community and local produce wholesalers and retailers.

Horticulture New Zealand president Andrew Fenton says it has been a nervous wait for growers as an outbreak would have hurt trade and been financially damaging for the industry.

Mr Fenton says he will meet Ministry for Primary Industries representatives within the next month to discuss the biosecurity response. He says the industry needs to make sure the best systems are in place to prevent a repetiton.