A vessel carrying 23,000 tonnes of palm kernel expeller will not be permitted to discharge its cargo in New Zealand, it has been announced today.

The Ministry for Primary Industries initially prevented discharge from the MV Molat after finding some of its cargo had come from an unregistered PKE facility in Malaysia.

Today's decision comes after considering an application from the importer to have the palm kernel treated in New Zealand.

Steve Gilbert, MPI border clearance services director told the Bay of Plenty Times there was a danger the "risk product" could be carrying pests or diseases that could harm New Zealand's primary industries or natural environment.

The vessel was expected to travel to another country as part of reshipment.

It arrived at Tauranga on September 6.

"We spent a lot of time assessing whether there was a solution that would meet biosecurity requirements, but unfortunately nothing ticks all the boxes in terms of mitigating the risk of pests and diseases entering New Zealand," Mr Gilbert said.

In making the decision, MPI considered the amount of product involved, the availability of heat treatment facilities in the region, transport and storage.

"My decision ensures that potentially contaminated PKE will not enter New Zealand," Mr Gilbert said.

MPI has strict biosecurity requirements for importing PKE. They include heat processing to least 85 degrees and that foreign facilities be approved and regularly audited by the exporting country.

"MPI has a lead role in protecting New Zealand from biosecurity risk. It's a job we take very seriously,'' Mr Gilbert said.


Some of the PKE carried by this vessel had been sourced from an unregistered facility in Malaysia. MPI amended import rules in June 2013 to require PKE to be only imported from facilities approved and regularly audited in the exporting country, Mr Gilbert said.