Chch lags in biosecurity
Biosecurity checks at Christchurch Airport are not up to the required standard, a Ministry for Primary Industries report shows.
MPI's target is for 98.5 per cent of passengers to comply with biosecurity requirements to declare food and other items such as used sporting equipment, animal equipment and gifts and souvenirs.
This is the result of New Zealand and Australia agreeing that low-risk trans-Tasman passengers do not have to have X-ray screening of luggage - referred to as direct exit - if 98.5 per cent of all passengers complied with biosecurity requirements.
A survey MPI conducted between May 14 and June 6 this year to monitor compliance showed that none of the three airports surveyed - Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch - met the 98.5 per cent rate.
That was mainly due to high levels of used equipment "slipping though". The equipment was considered low risk and difficult to detect using current tools.
The other most common risk goods that "slipped through" were products containing honey including toiletries and condiments and next was fresh produce.
Compliance at Christchurch Airport was "poor", the report said. The survey showed Christchurch achieved a 90.13 per cent compliance, compared to 96.3 per cent at Wellington and 96.08 per cent at Auckland.
"Reasons for the poor outcome at Christchurch should be investigated immediately," the survey said.
A Christchurch International Airport spokeswoman said it was not a matter for the airport to comment on.
The MPI report said part of the reason for Christchurch's poor compliance was a lack of national consistency in applying the measures required.
It recommended a competency review and/or refresher training at Christchurch on how to conduct a full search.
It also recommended measuring contaminants on used equipment seizures to improve national consistency when reporting on passenger compliance.
A total of 8131 passengers were surveyed at the three airports, out of the total of 243,764 arrivals between May 14 and June 6. There were 2836 Christchurch arrivals surveyed or 9.0 per cent of the total.
The report said New Zealand may need to reconsider the risk of the kinds of goods passengers were carrying.
For example at Christchurch, 14 of the passengers with "slipped" goods were carrying small amounts of dairy products such as butter and cheese which were the airline sized packs that they had received with their meals.
These may not be of great risk to New Zealand, the report said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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