Improving sea cargo biosecurity

13 May 2021

A work programme is set to improve biosecurity for sea cargo – a pathway that is under increasing pressure from new biosecurity threats and rising volumes.

Run by Biosecurity New Zealand, the programme has been in place since January 2020 and stems from an independent review commissioned to gain a better understanding of cargo clearance procedures and strains.

Work underway or completed to date includes the introduction of new technology such as a new risk and intelligence tool that uses information lodged by shippers and importers to automatically assess arriving cargo for biosecurity threats, and new liaison roles to work directly with industry.

Transitional facilities (TFs) play a crucial role in the sea cargo pathway by providing secure locations with trained staff to manage uncleared goods. The approach relies on these private facilities meeting their biosecurity responsibilities. Unfortunately, Biosecurity New Zealand auditing doesn’t present a rosy picture of voluntary compliance among TFs – many offenders are small operators that deal with only 60 to 100 containers a year and haven’t invested enough in biosecurity.

To lift compliance there are several changes coming up for TFs under the improvement programme, including individual ranking of each site by biosecurity risk (those that pose the greatest risk will face greater scrutiny); more accountability (requiring documented assurance of obligations being met); and greater enforcement tools (introducing the ability to impose an immediate suspension if there is a failure that results in clear biosecurity risk).

KVH works closely with Biosecurity New Zealand border clearance services across New Zealand, including the Mount Maunganui team, and will be closely following this work programme, and it’s outcomes, through the Port of Tauranga Biosecurity Excellence programme which works with frontline staff and TFs with the goal of preventing biosecurity risk in the region.