Second Queensland fruit fly found in Whangarei

By Mike Dinsdale

Biosecurity officials are investigating the discovery of a second male Queensland fruit fly caught in a surveillance trap in Whangarei.

The insect was collected from a Ministry for Primary Industries routine surveillance trap on Tuesday and formally identified yesterday.

It follows the discovery of another fruit fly in Whangarei in January which triggered a massive surveillance programme which included setting up a controlled area with restrictions on the movement of fresh fruit and vegetables, which cost taxpayers $1.6 million.

MPI Deputy Director General Compliance and Response Andrew Coleman said the insect was trapped in the Parihaka area of Whangarei, about 400m from where a single fly was found in January this year.

"However all our information at this stage tells us this detection is a new find and not related to the January incident.

"Queensland fruit fly has been found four times in New Zealand previously, including the January Whangarei detection. In all these earlier cases, increased trapping found no further flies," Mr Coleman said.

Up to 120 MPI and Quality Assure staff worked on the biosecurity threat in Whangarei after a single male Queensland fruit fly was found in a garden in the Riverside/Parihaka area, on January 21.

The operation was finally declared over on February 8 after no more fruit flies were found following two weeks of trapping, fruit sampling and testing. That operation cost $1.6 million.

Labour's primary industries spokesman Damien O'Connor called for an immediate ban on all fruit imports from Queensland and New South Wales where the fruit fly populations were well established.

"Until MPI can accurately identify the risk pathway that allowed the fly to come in to New Zealand we should stop the importation of all fruit until that pathway is identified and protocols have been changed to offer a higher level of inspection to prevent the fly from coming in,'' he said.

The newest discovery "shows a systemic problem which the ministry has been unable to fix''.

"There must now be a complete review of MPI's response. If insufficient resources were put into the investigation into how these flies came into New Zealand, then the ministry must change the way it approaches biosecurity incursions.''

- APNZ

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