According to Gard P&I Club, the 2019/20 Brown Marmorated Stink Bug season has arrived and ships arriving in New Zealand and Australia from countries with established stink bug populations must prepare for increased surveillance and inspection. Last season, New Zealand turned away four contaminated vessels from its waters.
The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is an agricultural pest that feeds on, and can severely damage, fruit and vegetable crops. The pest has spread from its native range in East Asia to establish populations in North America and Europe but is not yet established in Australia and New Zealand. If the pest were to find its way to New Zealand or Australia it could seriously harm the countries’ agricultural economies and unique environments.
The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is considered a ‘hitchhiker pest’ that can spread through oceangoing ships in international trade. Brown Marmorated Stink Bug adults seeking shelter from cold weather during winter months tend to find their way into vehicles, machinery and other types of cargo.
In response to the rapid expansion of stink bugs throughout Europe and North America, New Zealand and Australia have tightened their measures to keep these bugs out of their countries. And, in order to make compliance easier for those bringing cargo into both New Zealand and Australia, the two countries have worked closely together to make sure seasonal measures are consistent where possible. For the 2019/20 stink bug risk season, this includes:
– Introduction of a joint ‘Offshore Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Treatment Providers Scheme’. A list of approved treatment providers is jointly maintained by New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Department of Agriculture in Australia and published on both websites;
– Alignment of treatment options. While the three treatment options, heat treatment, methyl bromide fumigation and sulfuryl fluoride fumigation remain the same, it is important to note that some treatment application rates have changed.
The list of countries known to have established populations of Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is the same for both Australia and New Zealand and is referred to as the “actionable Brown Marmorated Stink Bug countries” in New Zealand and “target risk countries” in Australia. The list has grown for the 2019/20 stink bug season:
However, there are differences in the requirements and enforcement actions between the two countries. One key difference is that Australia will continue to allow treatment on arrival for containerised goods.
Moreover, the 2019/20 stink bug season in Australia is a month longer than in New Zealand. This is due to warmer climatic and daylight conditions, which could allow the stink bug to establish later in Australia.
On 22 July 2019, the New Zealand Ministry for Primary industries (MPI) released new versions of the Import Heath Standard for Vehicles, Machinery and Parts and the Import Heath Standard for Sea Containers form All Countries.
These standards contain major changes to the requirements for importing certain goods to New Zealand from countries known to have established populations of stink bugs. To summarise:
– The new requirements apply to certain goods exported from one of the actionable stink bug countries on or after 1 September 2019 and that arrive in New Zealand by 30 April 2020;
– All new or used vehicles, machinery and parts exported from one of the targeted risk countries during the stink bug season, both as break-bulk cargo and in sea containers, must be treated before they arrive in New Zealand;
– In addition, all sea containers from Italy, including those containing goods other than vehicles, machinery and parts, must be treated before they arrive in New Zealand;
– Used vehicles from Japan are also subject to special requirements. Due to the large export volumes, and the additional need to manage risks posed by other pests outside of the stink bug season, e.g. the Asian Gypsy Moth, the import of used vehicles (including motorcycles) from Japan must be managed under an MPI-Approved Used Vehicle and/or Machinery Systemyear round.
– All treatment of cargo, offshore or onshore depending on the cargo shipped, must be carried out by an MPI-approved treatment provider.
In addition, The Australian Department of Agriculture has also announced several other activities ahead of the 2019/20 stink bug season, such as:
– All roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) vessels will be subject to heightened vessel surveillance;
– Certain goods exported from one of the target risk countries on or after 1 September 2019 and that arrive in the Australian territory by 31 May 2020 will be subject to Brown Marmorated Stink Bug intervention;
– Goods categorised as ‘target high risk goods’ require mandatory treatment for stink bug risk. If the goods are shipped as break-bulk cargo, they must be treated before they arrive in Australia. For containerised goods, onshore treatment may be permitted;
– Goods categorised as ‘target risk goods’ do not require mandatory treatment but will be subject to increased random inspections onshore;
– All treatment of cargo, offshore or onshore depending on the cargo shipped, must be carried out by a treatment provider approved by the Australian Department of Agriculture.
According to Gard P&I Club, despite the fact that the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that possibly contaminated cargo arrives at its destination as clean as possible lies with the importers, the impact for ship operators may be important if stink bugs are intercepted at the border.