Stink bug season well underway
It’s that time of year where we are always talking about Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) again.
The 2022/23 BMSB season started 1 September and will run until 30 April 2023. There was a thorough review of the previous season before the September kick-off. There continues to be no evidence of any established BMSB population in New Zealand, which suggests New Zealand’s previous biosecurity approach has worked well, however, we are always looking for ways to improve.
Refinements for this season include tweaks to the import standard for sea containers. The requirement for containers and goods from Italy to be treated offshore during the BMSB season is now permanent. It was introduced as a temporary measure in 2018.
There are no changes to the import standard for vehicles, machinery and parts, which are a common hiding place for BMSB. Goods of this nature from identified high-risk countries must undergo offshore management before arrival in New Zealand. The management measures currently apply to 38 countries. Biosecurity New Zealand will continue to monitor the international BMSB situation and will add to the list of countries if required.
Biosecurity New Zealand officials have also been working closely with Australian biosecurity authorities to coordinate approval and auditing of offshore treatment providers.
As with previous seasons, inspections will be targeted at cargo that has a high risk of carrying BMSB and there will be monitoring of lower-risk goods and pathways to pick up any emerging threats. All vessels with breakbulk (uncontainerised) cargo from the 38 countries mentioned above will be subject to inspection on arrival. Under the verification programme for new vehicles, roughly 3700 vehicles and 700 machinery items will be checked during the season.
For the first time since before the Covid-19 pandemic, officers and other biosecurity personnel will travel to Japan to audit local cleaning and inspection operations for used vehicles coming to New Zealand. This auditing was managed virtually during the pandemic. We can expect to see more live interceptions from Japan this season. There are reports of high numbers of bugs around locations such as Tokyo. A wet and warmer-than-usual winter suggests greater bug activity.
Officers will also be working with vessel agents to ensure accurate reporting of BMSB detections made by crew during voyages to New Zealand. This information feeds into risk assessments, allowing Biosecurity New Zealand to focus interventions on where they are most needed. There was high levels of engagement from the shipping industry last year and this momentum should continue.
Also, education material has been provided to transitional facilities, targeting those that receive higher risk cargo, and a public awareness campaign will start very shortly.