Trials at the border improve biosecurity
There are several projects underway at Auckland Airport aimed at raising awareness and improving biosecurity behaviour, including:
New x-ray screening technology: an x-ray unit will be trialled later this month that uses new technology to screen luggage before arriving passengers pick up their bags. The idea is to identify risk items and bags of interest before passengers reach biosecurity lanes, so quarantine officers have the information they need before they interact with passengers, allowing them to make better risk assessment decisions. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) are developing software that will allow the technology to automatically detect risk goods such as stink bugs.
First encounters: quarantine officers have started meeting flights from known stink bug hot spots like Chile to hand out fliers and ensure passengers know to ring the pest and disease hotline if they find any bugs in their luggage. MPI had 20 calls about suspected sightings in October from passengers who said they saw information about stink bugs at the airport.
Clearing huge hauls of food: there’s a project underway to test a new way of clearing air passengers who arrive with large volumes of imported food. Quarantine officers spend an inordinate amount of time inspecting these parcels so MPI, NZ Customs, Auckland Airport and airline representatives are working on a trial that will divert some imported food during peak times, allowing inspection during quieter periods. It may mean passengers have to return to the airport to pick up their food, but it allows for much more considered inspection of risk goods.