Fruit restrictions in place

Last updated 14:00 11/05/2012
Queensland fruit fly
FOUND: The Queensland fruit fly.

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Whole fresh fruit and vegetables cannot be moved within a 1.5km area in Avondale, as officials conduct a search for fruit flies.

A single male Queensland fruit fly was discovered in Auckland's Mt Roskill on Tuesday and identified on Wednesday.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has placed controls on the movement of fruit and vegetables around Wolverton Rd in Avondale which may be in place for several weeks.

MPI Deputy Director General of Compliance and Response Andrew Coleman says the restrictions are an important precaution.

"The Queensland fruit fly is an unwanted and notifiable insect that could have serious consequences for our horticultural industries. While we urgently search for any further signs of the fruit fly in the Avondale area, we need the support of local people."

A detailed map of the controlled area and its boundaries is available at the MPI website.

Whole fresh fruit and vegetables can't be taken outside the boundaries.

Within a smaller area, called Zone A, which takes in a circle 200m out from the initial find, whole fruit and vegetables cannot be moved off properties.  

However, fruit and vegetables can continue to be transported from outside of the restricted areas into them.

Key fruits, vegetables and plants of concern are: All citrus fruits and stonefruit, pears, apples, blackberry, boysenberry, grapes, feijoa, passionfruit, tomato, eggplant, capsicum, pumpkin, avocado, custard apple, quince, persimmon, loquat, olives, oleander, kumquat, crab-apple, Cape gooseberry and guava.  

Residents are asked to avoid composting any of these fruits and vegetables.

MPI is encouraging residents to use a sink waste disposal unit to dispose of waste fruits and vegetables.

It is also providing special bins in the Controlled Area for their disposal.

The locations of these bins will be advised soon, MPI says.

"We appreciate this will be inconvenient for the many hundreds of families living in and around Avondale but their compliance with these restrictions is a critical precaution to protect our horticultural industries and home gardens," Coleman says.

"It is likely the restrictions will be in place for at least a couple of weeks.

"At this stage a single male fly has been found in a surveillance trap, and this does not mean there is a population of the fly in New Zealand, but we need to limit the transport of any material that could carry the fly or its larvae while we investigate the situation."

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MPI and its partners have investigators in the affected area. They will lay traps and check fruit trees, vegetable gardens and rubbish bins for any signs of fruit flies.

"It is vital that we ascertain if the insect is a solitary find or if there is a wider population in Auckland," Coleman says.

"MPI's staff will be doing all they can as fast as they can to establish what we are dealing with but the community is essential to the effectiveness of our biosecurity response."

If further fruit flies are found, the Ministry says there will not be aerial spraying of insecticides as there are other more effective treatment methods available.

Auckland mayor Len Brown says the Auckland Council will help the Government where it can.

"We have already deployed our biosecurity team to assist and our emergency response staff are on standby to provide more council support if required," Brown says.

"We have also offered to assist in the provision of information to our communities in Mt Roskill and the surrounding suburbs.

"It is important that we always stand guard against threats to our important horticultural industry.

"Any response should be measured and I encourage residents to support the operation."

Full information will be regularly updated to the MPI website.

Call MPI to report any suspicious finds or for further information on 0800 80 99 66.

- Fairfax Media

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