Insect Threat Being Taken Seriously

  • David Carter
Associate Minister for Food, Fibre, Biosecurity and Border Control

The recent discovery of 20 live gypsy moth caterpillars on a used Japanese imported car in Auckland is not cause for panic, says Associate Food and Fibre Minister, Hon David Carter.

Mr Carter, who recently spent time with MAF staff at the Ports of Auckland where the gypsy moths were discovered, said the increasing incidence of gypsy moth discoveries was a concern, but had to be kept in perspective with what MAF was doing to combat the insect threat.

"MAF has significantly improved its quarantine procedures and this is the result; increased discoveries of foreign pests."

"MAF is now working with car importers to tighten up on procedures offshore, so we can feel more confident that the pre-shipment sanitation of goods imported to New Zealand is as effective as possible."

"One of the strategies being considered would be ensuring cars are imported from Japanese ports which are not adjacent to vegetated areas. This could minimise the risk of major agricultural pests like the gypsy moth having contact with cars waiting for shipment to New Zealand."

"Another strategy MAF may consider is the use of insecticide sprays. Given the high number of gypsy moth discoveries over the last two years, we have to take seriously anything which will keep this pest from establishing itself in New Zealand."

"An outbreak of the gypsy moth may cost millions to eradicate, and would pose a major threat not only to our booming export forest industry, but also to our indigenous forest and amenity trees," said Mr Carter.

"MAF is taking the insect threat seriously and so is Government. In the meantime, hysterical criticism of our quarantine services is unhelpful."