Fine for plant smuggler
A woman who admitted smuggling plants in the post will have to pay $8000 ($5000 in fines and a $3000 donation to charity) and do 200 hours of community service.
The culprit pleaded guilty however, as she was discharged without conviction in August, she cannot be named or identified.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) started looking into her importing practices after intercepting an incorrectly declared parcel containing eight live plants. She later admitted to using different names and addresses to import several consignments of plant material.
A scan of records showed officers at Auckland’s International Mail Centre had intercepted various packages intended for her and had provided information on how to correctly import plant material. This evidence clearly didn’t help her case. Neither did the 13 unauthorised plants that were seized from her address during the execution of the search warrant.
- Always source kiwifruit and shelter belt plants from either a nursery producing Kiwifruit Plant Certification Scheme (KPCS) certified plants or a nursery certified to the Plant Pass certification. These schemes help ensure as an industry we are reducing the risk of pests and diseases being spread.
- Always buy seeds from local suppliers - many seeds purchased online aren’t what they say they are and more importantly do not meet New Zealand’s strict biosecurity rules and could risk introducing a plant disease.
- Importing seeds is best left to reputable commercial operators who know what they are doing and are aware of associated rules (including an import permit; phytosanitary certificate; and post entry quarantine for example).
- From time to time, international magazines/subscriptions have been unaware of New Zealand’s strict biosecurity requirements and offered seeds as gifts or prizes. If you receive any unknown seeds in the mail, do not open them and let Biosecurity New Zealand know on 0800 80 99 66.
Biosecurity New Zealand enforces all requirements. Any report of kiwifruit plants grown from unapproved imports will be investigated. Please contact the pest and disease hotline on 0800 80 99 66 if you are aware of any unapproved kiwifruit seed imports.