The number of air travellers attempting to bring banned goods into New Zealand has more than doubled in the past three years.
More than 9100 people have been fined this year, caught flouting the country's strict biosecurity laws at airports across New Zealand, failing to declare items that could harbour pests or diseases. A further 1135 people have been handed warnings.
With the busy summer period yet to start the Ministry for Primary Industries is on track to issue a record number of fines.
Last year officers issued 9704 infringement notices for the year compared with 6102 in 2015 and 4851 in 2014.
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"The stats show biosecurity fines increased by more than 50 per cent between 2014 and 2016. With the busy summer period yet to start, we are expecting to see another increase this year," said MPI passenger manager Craig Hughes.
"The rise is partly due to the increased numbers of visitors, but also to the tough stance we're taking on people that put New Zealand at risk. We're now more likely to issue a fine than give a warning."
He said failing to declare because you forgot, were tired from travelling, or did not know the rules was not enough to avoid a fine.
"The $400 fines are a stern reminder to air passengers who unintentionally fail to declare biosecurity risk goods such as fresh fruit. Where there is deliberate intent involved, passengers can face prosecution or be refused entry into New Zealand," said Hughes.
Travellers entering the country needed to declare or dispose anything that could have a biosecurity risk before entering New Zealand, he said.