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Biosecurity risks increase with returning international visitors

Passengers under Biosecurity sign in Auckland Airport.

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Biosecurity officers issued 467 infringement notices in November this year compared to 172 in November 2021 (file picture).
Photo: 123RF

Biosecurity officers are staying vigilant as increasing numbers of international visitors return to the country.

Officers issued 467 infringement notices in November for items including sandwiches or burgers, apples, bananas, oranges, sliced cucumber, and pork dumplings.

Northern regional commissioner Mike Inglis said fruit and the vegetable items could host pests and diseases that were not present in Aotearoa.

“More travellers mean more risk goods arriving at international airports,” he said in a statement.

“Just last week, our officers seized undeclared items from passengers at Auckland Airport, including sandwiches or burgers, apples, bananas, oranges, sliced cucumber and pork dumplings. Those seizures resulted in 22 infringement notices ($400 instant fines) being issued.”

Diseases such as foot and mouth, African swine fever, and brown marmorated stink bug could have a devastating impact on our economy and environment, he said.

People coming into the country could streamline the process at the airport by correctly filling in their passenger arrival card, declaring any goods that may pose a biosecurity risk and considering what they bring into New Zealand, he said.

A comparison of passenger arrivals between November 2022 and 2021 shows that in November 2022, 422,598 international air passengers went through biosecurity checks compared with 12,075 in November last year.

Biosecurity officers seized 8862 items from arriving passengers in November compared with 172 in November 2021.

Officers issued 467 infringement notices in November this year. Only 14 were issued in November 2021.

Fresh produce and plant products were the most commonly seized undeclared items in November 2022 (399 items), followed by used equipment (89) and in third place was cooked or pickled food products (51).

Story Credit: rnz.co.nz

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