Palm kernel shipment banned from NZ

1:50 pm on 18 October 2016

A shipment of palm kernel which has been anchored off Tauranga for over a month will not be allowed to enter New Zealand, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has decided.

The MV Molat, which is carrying 23,000 tonnes of palm kernel from Malaysia, was blocked from docking in Tauranga in early September because the cargo came from a facility which had yet to be approved.

The MV Molat

The MV Molat Photo: Supplied / HM Coastguard NE

The importer of the palm kernel applied to have the palm kernel heat treated in New Zealand to reduce biosecurity risks.

MPI won't disclose who the importer is.

MPI border clearance services director Steve Gilbert said there was no solution to preventing the risk of pests and diseases entering the country.

"MPI cannot be certain that the appropriate treatments were received in Malaysia, so we do not know whether the biosecurity risks have been managed."

Mr Gilbert said it took seven weeks to make the decision because they had to communicate with the importer and their facility.

"The first step was we placed the directive not allowing it to discharge, the importer made a number of submissions to us to consider alternative treatment options such as treating the product in New Zealand, and also submissions relating to the facility in Malaysia.

"We carefully looked at all those submissions, but found that none of them was going to provide us with the level of biosecurity assurance that we need."

Mr Gilbert said the facility the shipment came from had been 'recently registered'.

"Each consignment is taken on its own merit, so yes we would accept a consignment from that facility now that it meets our biosecurity requirements."

Federated Farmers biosecurity spokesperson Guy Wigley said MPI made a good decision.

"We're pleased that MPI have stood their ground and made sure that our biosecurity rules are being followed and we're very disappointed with the importer that they should try and bring in palm kernel from an uncertified source.

"This was a huge tonnage and the issue around trying to heat treat that palm kernel within New Zealand -the practicalities of that weren't available."

Palm kernel expeller (PKE), a by-product of the palm oil industry, is used as a supplementary animal feed, mostly by the dairy industry. The product has been linked to the destruction of rain forests and loss of biodiversity in South East Asia.

The MV Molat is carrying 23,000 tonnes of palm kernel

The MV Molat is carrying 23,000 tonnes of palm kernel Photo: 123rf