11 Sep 2013

Hort NZ unhappy with travellers' biosecurity compliance

6:48 am on 11 September 2013

The national horticulture body has acknowledged a small improvement in biosecurity compliance for air passengers coming into the country.

But Horticulture New Zealand says border protection is still not meeting the standard the horticulture industry and the Government expect.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has released results of a survey showing almost 99% of passengers who had been through checks were not carrying medium or high-risk goods, including materials that may host fruit fly or serious animal diseases.

The overall compliance result was 96.9%, slightly up on last year's result but still a little below MPI's target of 98.5%.

Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Peter Silcock says the fact the ministry is not hitting its target means the biosecurity risk from incoming travellers is still too high.

He says although the 1.6% difference does not seem like much, out of 5 million people coming through the border it amounts to 85,000 air passengers with risk items, so there is more to do.

"We need to make sure they've got the resources and that means more people, more dogs and I think the upgrade of the X-ray equipment coming is going to be a significant move as well."

Mr Silcock says Horticulture New Zealand worries about what the future might hold while it is facing this additional risk.