Fruit fly decision imminent

By Mike Dinsdale

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Andrew Coleman. Photo/Ron Burgin
Andrew Coleman. Photo/Ron Burgin

Friday is D-Day for finding out if a single male Queensland fruit fly found in Whangarei is a lone invader or part of something far more serious after a biosecurity operation expected to cost more than $1.5 million.

A team of up to 120 Ministry of Primary Industry and Quality Assure staff have been working in Whangarei for the past two week since a single male Queensland fruit fly was found in a garden in the Riverside/Parihaka area, in Whangarei, on January 21.

If more fruit flies are found the Government may have to mount a massive spraying and eradication programme to protect the country's $4 billion horticulture industry. People cannot take fresh fruit or vegetables, other than leafy and root varieties, out of the 1.5km circular-controlled area called Zone B. In the heart of that circle is Zone A - ground zero, where a 200m circle extends from the property where the fruit fly was found.

Deputy director general of the Ministry for Primary Industries Andrew Coleman said as of yesterday no more fruit flies had been found, leaving the authorities hopeful the scare could be declared over by the end of Friday.

Mr Coleman said if no more fruit flies were found by the end of Friday it's likely the biosecurity response will be called off.

"We have to wait two weeks from checking of the traps we set up after the initial find. That's the international standard and will take us to the end of Friday," he said.

'If no more fruit flies are found it will be put through the decision-making process here at MPI and the chief technical officer will make the call [on whether to end the operation]."

Mr Coleman said the entire operation was likely to have cost the Government at least $1.5 million.

In 2012 the discovery of a single male fly in Avondale, Auckland, sparked a major biosecurity operation that cost about $1.5 million.

Mr Coleman, who was to be in Whangarei today to see the operation in action, said the response from the Whangarei public over the scare had been amazing.

- Northern Advocate

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