Almost 900 people were fined last month for failing to declare biosoecurity risk items at Auckland International Airport.
Biosecurity New Zealand northern regional commissioner Mike Inglis said 600,463 arriving air passengers were screened in December, a 100,000 increase on the same period last year.
The vast majority of travellers had followed NZ’s biosecurity rules, aimed at protecting the country’s $57 billion primary sector export industry.
However, 883 infringement notices were issued to passengers who failed to declare a risk item such as fresh produce and plant products, honey, meat and other animal products.
Biosecurity New Zealand recently introduced express lanes for low-risk passengers, additional detector-dog handlers and their dogs, more quarantine officers in Auckland, and new biosecurity hosts to help passengers navigate the biosecurity system.
“Our hosts have been a welcome addition during the busy season – greeting arriving passengers and ensuring they know how to navigate the biosecurity system and what to expect when they reach our officers,” Inglis said.
“The hosts, along with other processing initiatives, have helped to keep the average processing time for arriving passengers passing through biosecurity at Auckland International Airport at just under eight minutes during December.”
Inglis said they expect high volumes of international arrivals to continue through to the end of January.
“We’ve already seen some of the highest traveller numbers in almost three years, and our frontline teams were ready for the increased number of travellers,” he said.
“So while we want to ensure a smooth and efficient experience for passengers, we are maintaining our strong biosecurity practices.”
Exotic fruit flies and the brown marmorated stink bug continue to be a focus for quarantine officers this summer, along with other pests and diseases that could devastate NZ’s economy and environment.