30 Jul 2013

Insects and geckos found in palm kernel imports

3:08 pm on 30 July 2013

An array of insects and even geckos has reached New Zealand in shipments of palm kernel over the past three seasons.

Some of them are identified as posing a threat to New Zealand's biosecurity.

In response to a request under the Official Information Act, the Ministry of Primary Industries has released a list of insects and other wildlife found in imported PKE shipments.

They include: the black soldier fly, the red-legged ham bettle, the foreign grain bettle, the broad-horned flour bettle, the coffin-fly and even Asia's household gecko.

MPI says nine different insect species and the gecko have been detected and intercepted at the border over the last three years.

The release of the list followed the discovery of a sheep limb on a farm in Bay of Plenty in May.

The ministry said some of the flies which have been found and the gecko are regulated pests in New Zealand - that means they would pose a biosecurity risk if they became established.

But the finds may just be the tip of the iceberg, as the ministry says it does not identify all the organisms it finds in PKE shipments and says importers are not obliged to identify them either - just to treat the consignment.

Nearly all of New Zealand's palm kernel comes from Malaysia and Indonesia.

The Labour Party is calling for the entire PKE supply chain to be reassesed. Bioseurity spokesperson Damien O'Connor said the ministry's policy of not identifying all the potential pests which arrive in PKE shipments, nor requiring importers to do so either, is dangerous.