Monday, April 22, 2024

Tarantulas a big hairy win for Biosecurity NZ

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Agency’s spider senses tingling as borders open and passenger arrivals climb.
Biosecurity New Zealand officers have also been working across other entry points into NZ to prevent unwanted pests and diseases from getting through. Photo: Rejean Bisson
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A container of dead tarantulas and 28 mangoes are among the items found  by Biosecurity New Zealand quarantine officers recently, as passenger arrivals in the country continue to climb.

In June,  406,061 passengers arrived in New Zealand, compared with 206,394 in June 2022, Mike Inglis, Northern regional commissioner, Biosecurity New Zealand, said.

The increase has led to a rise in the number of seized goods that could carry unwanted pests or diseases.

“In June, our border officers seized 9061 items from arriving passengers, compared with 2693 items in June 2022.

“A recent seizure saw our staff destroy 28 fresh mangoes declared by a passenger arriving at Auckland Airport from India. The mangoes were inspected for fruit fly before destruction.”

Biosecurity New Zealand officers have also been working across other entry points into NZ to prevent unwanted pests and diseases from getting through. The work is considered vital to protect NZ’s primary industries, which earned a record $56.2 billion revenue last year.

“One of the more interesting recent interceptions was a container of dead tarantulas in a parcel arriving from Mexico,” Inglis said.

Dead tarantulas found by Biosecurity New Zealand quarantine officers
This container of dead tarantulas arrived in a parcel from Mexico, intercepted by Biosecurity New Zealand. Photo: Supplied

Biosecurity NZ said it is continuing to improve passenger flows at international airports experiencing high volumes of arriving travellers, particularly Auckland Airport.

“A system-wide approach has been adopted to manage border arrivals. This has involved working closely with Auckland Airport, other border agencies, baggage handlers, and airlines to identify and resolve congestion-related issues,” Inglis said.

Biosecurity NZ is continuing to recruit and expand its workforce as international passenger volumes increase.

In April, 13 new officers graduated from their training. A cohort of 19 new trainee officers started in June and will graduate in mid-August. Six new recruits have also started their training in Wellington and Christchurch. Biosecurity NZ has also begun advertising for new trainee officers to start in August and September.

As the New Zealand Biosecurity Institute marks its annual Biosecurity Week, Biosecurity NZ is reminding travellers to declare any risk goods they bring into NZ. These include food, plants, wooden products, outdoor equipment and animal products. Failure to do so could result in a fine or prosecution.

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