8 Feb 2014

Queensland fruit fly alert over

1:18 pm on 8 February 2014

The Ministry for Primary Industries has lifted restrictions on moving fruit and vegetables in Whangarei after a final check found no further Queensland fruit flies in the area.

The restrictions were imposed within a radius of 1.5 kilometres from where a sole male fruit fly was found on 21 January.

Traps were placed in the zone and ministry teams inspected gardens, rubbish bins and the contents of special fruit disposal bins for signs of more of the insect pests.

A check of traps on Friday evening found no more of the species.

MPI deputy director general Andrew Coleman said New Zealand's fruit fly-free status remained intact, as it has throughout the period.

Mr Coleman said while the controls are lifted, this does not signal the end of work in the area.

"MPI will continue with its routine fruit fly surveillance programme, with an additional 33 traps left in high-risk locations such as near landfills and industrial areas," he said in a statement.

The insect infests more than 100 species of fruit and is one of the biggest threats to the $4 billion fruit and vegetable export industry.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy thanked the people of Whangarei for their co-operation and patience and said the Government's biosecurity system was working well.

"We've got 7500 traps up and down the country designed to catch these fruit fly. We've got very strong controls at the border in place and this shows the biosecurity system is working."

Horticulture New Zealand president Julian Raine said the outcome was a mixture of luck and an efficient biosecurity system, but his organisation is unhappy at how regularly the fruit flies are being found.

Mr Raine says the last time a Queensland fruit fly was found in New Zealand was April 2012, and the industry will now be asking hard questions of the Ministry for Primary Industries about how to stop a recurrence.