Saturday, March 2, 2024

Biosecurity NZ signs off on bumper festive season effort

Biosecurity New Zealand is thanking international travellers who arrived during the peak Christmas and New Year period for their efforts in helping to protect the nation’s $57 billion primary sector export industry.

“The vast majority of people passing through biosecurity checks are doing the right thing, and it is great to see international passengers doing all they can to help keep New Zealand free of pests and diseases,” says Biosecurity New Zealand Northern regional commissioner, Mike Inglis.

In December, Biosecurity New Zealand staff screened 600,463 arriving air passengers, an increase of almost 100,000 on the same period last year.

“While we still expect to see high volumes of international arrivals through to the end of January, we’ve already seen some of the highest traveller numbers in almost 3 years, and our frontline teams were ready for the increased number of travellers.

“Our staff have worked hard to deliver the best possible travel experience for the many thousands of people travelling to New Zealand for the summer holiday period. They’ve done a fantastic job to date and we thank them for their efforts,” says Mr Inglis.

“The improvements we’ve put in place in the last few months meant we were able to keep passengers moving through biosecurity checks.”

Biosecurity New Zealand recently introduced express lanes for low-risk passengers, additional detector dog handlers and their dogs, more quarantine officers in Auckland, and new biosecurity hosts to help passengers navigate the biosecurity system.

“Our hosts have been a welcome addition during the busy season – greeting arriving passengers and ensuring they know how to navigate the biosecurity system and what to expect when they reach our officers.

“The hosts, along with other processing initiatives, have helped to keep the average processing time for arriving passengers passing through biosecurity at Auckland International Airport at just under 8 minutes during December.”

During December, Biosecurity New Zealand officers issued 883 infringement notices to passengers who failed to declare a risk item such as fresh produce and plant products, honey, meat and other animal products.

“So while we want to ensure a smooth and efficient experience for passengers, we are maintaining our strong biosecurity practices.”

Exotic fruit flies and the brown marmorated stink bug continue to be a focus for quarantine officers this summer, along with other pests and diseases that could devastate our economy and environment.

Passengers can do several things to help them be checked efficiently by our biosecurity staff on arrival, including: 

  • Travelling light is best – if it’s a non-essential item, don’t bring it into New Zealand.
  • Fill out your New Zealand Traveller Declaration correctly before arrival so our experienced staff can efficiently and accurately assess biosecurity risk. New Zealand Traveller Declaration 
  • Declare all risk items – like food, plants, wooden products, soil, water, outdoor equipment, and animal products so we can assess and prevent any pests or diseases entering New Zealand.
  • If you’re travelling with sports, camping or other outdoor equipment, make sure you clean it thoroughly first and declare it.
  • Dispose of undeclared risk goods in marked amnesty bins on your arrival to avoid being searched or fined. This material is safely disposed of to remove biosecurity risk.   
  • Families/groups should stay together to help with efficient processing.

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