Lockdown after fruit fly find
The Far North is in horticulture lockdown following the discovery of a fruit fly.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has established a controlled area and surveillance is being beefed up to find out if a Queensland fruit fly found near Whangarei was a sole example.
The fly was found this month and if it was part of a wider breeding population, it could have catastrophic results for the $4 billion industry.
An MPI spokeswoman said as yet the solitary male fly was the only found.
MPI has set up what is called a controlled area around the location where the rogue fly was found in Parihaka, near Whangarei.
This roughly circular area is divided into two zones - Zone A which goes from the find location out to 200 metres and Zone B which goes out 1.5km from the original find.
People in Zone A are being asked to not move any whole fresh fruit or vegetable matter anywhere outside of their property.
People in the wider Zone B are being asked not to move any whole fruit or fresh vegetables outside of the controlled area.
Special bins will be provided soon so all fruit and vegetables can be checked before being thrown out.
MPI operates a lure-based surveillance trapping system to help in early detection of fruit fly incursions.
There are around 7500 traps throughout New Zealand, concentrated in populated areas and areas known for previous fruit fly sightings.
MPI field teams are setting additional surveillance traps to look for further flies.
The risk to the horticulture industry could include the destruction caused by the pest and the cost of trying to control it, HortNZ said.
On top of that would be the cost as international markets were closed to New Zealand products.
"This is an anxious time for all growers and the whole horticulture industry," HortNZ president Julian Raine said earlier today.
Ministry for Primary Industries deputy director general compliance and response Andrew Coleman said it was vital to discover whether the fly was alone or part of a wider population.
"This insect is an unwanted and notifiable organism that could have serious consequences for New Zealand's horticultural industry," he said.
"It can damage a wide range of fruit and vegetables."
Queensland fruit flies have been found three times before in New Zealand - in Whangarei in 1995 and in Auckland in 1996 and 2012. In all cases increased surveillance found no further sign of the fly.