Manag­ing the risk of the stink bug

With the vol­ume of in­ter­na­tional trade and travel greater than ever be­fore there is con­stant risk to New Zealand from the move­ment of goods and peo­ple that could po­ten­tially har­bour pests of plants.

NZ Grower - - Water For Life - By Leanne Ste­wart

Trade into New Zealand of ve­hi­cles, ma­chin­ery and equip­ment, and con­tainer­ised goods, are two such im­port path­ways that pose a sig­nif­i­cant risk to our coun­try due to as­so­ci­a­tion of the un­wanted pest brown mar­morated stink bug (BMSB) (Ha­ly­omor­pha halys).

Since 2014 the Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries has had im­port re­quire­ments in place to man­age the risk of BMSB and other un­wanted pests on th­ese and sea con­tainer path­ways. How­ever, the risk sit­u­a­tion in ex­port­ing coun­tries is chang­ing as a re­sult of the rapid spread of BMSB to new ar­eas where there are min­i­mal con­trol tools. This has meant in­creas­ing in­stances of in­fes­ta­tion. As can be ex­pected this ad­di­tional path­way pres­sure has re­sulted in a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in bor­der in­ter­cep­tions of BMSB from the United States of Amer­ica (USA) and Italy, in the last three years.

To en­sure pro­tec­tion of the hor­ti­cul­ture in­dus­try, Hor­ti­cul­ture New Zealand, along with sev­eral prod­uct groups, have been closely mon­i­tor­ing this risk sit­u­a­tion. Con­cerns have pri­mar­ily fo­cused on the oc­cur­rence of live BMSB in­ter­cep­tions at the bor­der that in­di­cate treat­ment ap­pli­ca­tions in ex­port­ing coun­tries may not have been ef­fec­tively ap­plied. One may ar­gue that be­cause BMSB is be­ing in­ter­cepted at the bor­der then the biose­cu­rity sys­tem is work­ing. Well, in a way yes, how­ever it’s in New Zealand’s best in­ter­ests to pro­tect our unique en­vi­ron­ment and re­sources by keep­ing risk off­shore.

In the cur­rent BMSB risk sea­son, which runs from Septem­ber to April an­nu­ally, we have seen the high­est rate of in­ter­cep­tions recorded to date, in­clud­ing sig­nif­i­cant num­bers (ag­gre­ga­tions) of BMSB which clus­ter to­gether to over­win­ter in im­ported goods. How­ever, the threat that is posed to New Zealand crops and amenity plants is sev­eral months af­ter the risk sea­son, when BMSB ex­pe­ri­ence warmer tem­per­a­tures and be­come ac­tive again, leav­ing their hid­ing places to feed and then mate. The in­creased pres­sure - in­ter­cep­tion fre­quency, ag­gre­ga­tions, mul­ti­ple en­try path­ways - we have seen this risk sea­son has gen­er­ated sig­nif­i­cant con­cern to Hort NZ and prod­uct groups who worked with MPI to eval­u­ate the risk. They then con­sider if im­me­di­ate changes need to be made to strengthen im­port re­quire­ments from high risk coun­tries.

MPI re­sponded to in­dus­try and ac­knowl­edged the cur­rent mea­sures were not ad­e­quately manag­ing the risk of BMSB on the im­port path­ways, par­tic­u­larly from Italy where most of the in­ter­cep­tions were com­ing from. This re­sulted in a tem­po­rary change to the Ital­ian sea con­tainer cargo im­port path­way to re­quire manda­tory treat­ment ei­ther off­shore, or on­shore in New Zealand, within 48 hours of ar­rival.

Al­though the change in re­quire­ments has strength­ened the mea­sures on the Ital­ian sea con­tainer path­way, th­ese are only tem­po­rary and there is still risk pre­sented by ex­ports from other coun­tries where BMSB is present. There­fore, Hort NZ will con­tinue to lobby for on­go­ing re­view of the ap­pro­pri­ate­ness of mea­sures to be ap­plied on BMSB risk path­ways in an ef­fort to keep risk off­shore. This pre­ven­ta­tive ap­proach is essen­tial, rather than be­ing re­ac­tive to risk on our doorstep.

Leanne Ste­wart is biose­cu­rity man­ager for Hort NZ

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