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Control zone set up over fruit fly scare

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New Zealand News | Friday May 11 2012 6:18

Control zone set up over fruit fly scare

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Growers are nervously awaiting the response from trading partners to the news a fruit fly has been found in New Zealand.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has confirmed a male Queensland fruit fly has been discovered in a routine surveillance trap in Avondale.

Officials investigating the Queensland fruit fly found in Auckland have placed a ban on the movement of fresh fruit and vegetables in the area.

The ban covers a 1.5 km radius around Wolverton Street.

The Ministry for Primary Industries' Andrew Coleman says fruit and veges can't be moved out of that area at all and there's a small 200 m area where produce can't even be taken off properties.

Mr Coleman says residents have been told not to compost a whole raft of fruits and vegetables, while the ministry is also providing bins for the disposal of these.

He says staff are in the field explaining the rules to locals.

"Got people who will be in there knocking on doors and talking to locals. We've got people who will be handing out pamphlets. We've got people engaged with the wider community and the industry."

The rules are stricter for 108 homes at the centre of the circle - no fruit or vegetables can be removed from their properties.

MAP: 1.5 km radius as shown from MPI

Horticulture New Zealand CEO Peter Silcock is hopeful any more fruit flies found over the coming days, will be near the first.

He says the ministry is in talks with trading partners.

"It really depends on what their response is, we would hope that they're going to take a measured response, given that this is just one fruit fly in one trap.

"There's no scientific reason why they would ban exports at the moment. The ministry has put a control over any fruit within that immediate vicinity, so you know, we're managing that issue."

Mr Silcock says while the fruit fly is on its own, it doesn't create an immediate problem.

"But if it was to establish here, it would definitely have tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars worth of problem for us in terms of, particularly, our market access."

Fruit shop owners in Mt Roskill are wondering what the discovery of the fruit fly means for them.

Mt Roskill's Bloom Fresh Vegetable and Fruit shop owner Manaj Kumar says he hasn't been given any official information.

"We're trying to gather some more information on how to control it, we will try to limit our business into the city and try not to move it outside the city or it might spread."

Federated Farmers is remaining calm over the discovery of the fruit fly.

President Bruce Wills says at this stage there's only one been found, so there's no need to panic.

He's confident authorities are handling the situation as best they can.

"They've assured us that they're doing everything they can do. These things have happened before so we're certainly not getting too concerned about it at this stage.

"We're always vulnerable, there's a lot of trade that goes backwards and forwards. So it's just an incident that's come up and we've ensured that all effort has been made to get to the bottom of this issue."

The Queensland fruit fly has been detected twice before in New Zealand - - but in both cases there was no breeding population.

Moves to streamline trans-Tasman travel are being blamed for putting biosecurity protections in jeopardy.

Labour MP Damien O'Connor says the automated Smartgate screening allows people, who may be carrying potentially dangerous goods or biosecurity pests to enter the country without being physically checked

He says it's more of a dumb-gate.

Auckland mayor Len Brown has offered his support in the hunt for more Queensland fruit flies.

Mr Brown says Auckland Council's already deployed its biosecurity team to help out.

He says it's so important to stand guard against threats to such an important industry, and he'll be providing plenty of information for local communities.

Photo: Stock.xchng

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