MPI - Industry update BMSB

Please see below from our industry body BAFF in conjunction with MPI regarding potential delays being experienced by MPI, it is likely that importers will continue to suffer extended timelines through the course of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug season and we do not anticipate any major alleviation before April.


Circumstances regarding transition of goods through the border have created increasing frustration for importers since before Christmas and I felt it appropriate to provide an update on the current state. 

As you will be aware, there is an incremental increase in the number of consignments coming across our borders on an annual basis. This is an anticipated increase and one which we are well placed to manage. Aligned to this however, with some high risk issues arising last year around the importation of seeds (leading to problems like black grass and velvet leaf) a higher level of complexity has had to be imposed upon seed importation and management of these consignments. 
This requires wider involvement of our teams in assuring and monitoring the biosecurity mitigation for these consignments and by proxy a lengthier time in addressing applications as a whole, but it is an essential interaction in order to make sure that every possible mitigation is considered in keeping pests and diseases from our shores as these have serious ramifications for NZ.
The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is one of MPI’s highest priority plant pests. It is a hitchhiker pest with no biological association to any specific commodity and is a public nuisance that damages most commercial plant species and invades homes in large numbers during the winter.
The highest risk season is when BMSB aggregates to overwinter, this is during the NZ spring/summer period. Our season began in September and as it has developed it is evident that the threat remains serious and  growing. 
An increased prevalence of the threat and subsequent need to add higher parameters to our monitoring standards, including 100% checks of all consignments from Italy and Hungary, has meant that in increase in the number of lodgements that we must review has been required and as a consequence customers are being subjected to delays. Typically we would be addressing around 600-700 lodgements in our queue at this time of year, but current circumstances have led to our average being closer to 1500 and up to almost 3000 at one time.
In effect, whilst consignment volumes have increased at a recognised and supportable rate, the number of interactions with consignments within that has disproportionately increased by a large margin and this has created delays in delivery.
As an example of the seasonal impact:
BMSB Total Intercept events

2016/17 season:


2017/18 season (so far):


This equates to around 1100 individual insects this year.
You will no doubt have seen the news story on the redirection of a Japanese vessel which had this risk associated with it. This increase in activity clearly demonstrates the success of and need for our systems and processes and unfortunately, whilst it provides little comfort, there is still potential for further standards to be imposed before we are free of risk this year. Certainly, with a new vehicle and machinery import health standard currently under consideration to face the threat in future, we can expect more impact next season.
Not much light there I’m afraid, but unfortunately the threat is such that we are unable to moderate our approach at this time. We are however continuing to work with teams across the organisation to develop different approaches to other aspects of delivery that will hopefully ease the burden. That said, it is likely that importers will continue to suffer the extended timelines through the course of the BMSB season and we do not anticipate any major alleviation before April.
Naturally early submission does help and we really appreciate the support of all importers in trying to enable this. Not every situation will allow for such action and in these instances, please do consider our urgent application process where, if the stringent criteria are met (Including the incurrence of demurrage costs) we will do our utmost to enable as rapid a transition as possible under the circumstances.
We do understand the frustrations that these measures may cause and apologise for the inconvenience, but unfortunately we cannot compromise our approach to biosecurity protection and the enhanced risk to our shores is such that these preventative measures are a very necessary burden at this time.
Naku noa na
Tipu Ake Mai Raro Arahihia Mai Runga
Mark Bateman | Manager Operational Coordination
Operations Branch | Ministry for Primary Industries - Manatu Ahu Matua

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