4 Apr 2014

Fly traps a last resort - grower lobby

9:50 am on 4 April 2014

The trap used to catch a second Queensland fruit fly in Northland is being likened to an ambulance at the bottom of a cliff by Horticulture New Zealand.

The industry lobby says it's unbelievable that a second fly has been found so soon after the discovery of another in January, in the same area of Parihaka in Whangarei.

Residents are again subject to quarantine and restrictions on their fruit and vegetables, less than two months after the government alert on the fly was lifted.

Emergency measures have been put in place immediately.

"We're putting signs up on the boundary of the controlled area, we're delivering pamphlets to everyone within a 200m zone of the find,'' says Richard Calvert from AsureQuality, which manages pest and disease reponse for the Government.

"We're increasing trapping frequency within that 200m, and also within a 1.5km zone from the find".

The head of compliance at the Ministry for Primary Industries, Andrew Coleman, says the latest fruit fly is not linked to the January find. He says ministry staff dissected 600kg of fruit in January and didn't find a single egg or larva, which would have indicated a breeding population.

Mr Coleman says the fact the fly was found in a trap shows the ministry's surveillance system is working.

Border security being beefed up - minister

The Queensland fruit fly is a destructive pest that makes fruit and vegetables inedible and is considered one of the biggest threats to $4 billion dollar fruit and vegetable export industry.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says the Government's already in the process of beefing up its border security, by adding extra biosecurity inspectors, sniffer dogs, and x-ray machines.

"I'm not prepared to speculate about where this fruit fly may have come from, because there are all the different pathways: small craft, sea freight, mail, passenger movement. The Ministry for Primary Industries will try to get to the bottom of it, but it might be very very difficult," said Mr Guy.

But Horticulture New Zealand's chief executive Peter Silcock says there are channels into New Zealand that need to be under more scrutiny.

"It's probably around passengers and yachts that we could do more, maybe with more border inspections and more screening of passengers as they come into the country.

Mr Silcock says there's been an explosion of Queensland fruit flies in Australia in recent months.

"There's clearly a changing situation in Australia where they've reduced their management in New South Whales and Victoria, and that's meant the population has grown over there," he says.

"That creates more risk, and we have to respond to managing that risk. We need to be reviewing our systems because of that".

"I think this find adds impotus to that, and urgency to that as well. They (the government) have committed to do some reviews, and I understand they've got someone in Australia now. We need to get the review done quickly, we need to put actions in place."

The Ministry for Primary Industries says there has been an explosion of Queensland fruit flies in Australia in recent months and that it has begun to review import requirements for high-risk fruit.