Joint Border Management System goes live

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Customs Minister Maurice Williamson launched the Government’s $89 million Joint Border Management System (JBMS) on August 1st.

Importers, exporters, and their agents and brokers, can now submit shipment details electronically to a single point of contact, rather than dealing separately with several government agencies.

“This reduces the duplication of data to border agencies and will speed up processing times,” Mr Guy said.

Customs Minister Maurice Williamson said several pilot partners, responsible for about 60 per cent of all export and import transactions, had played a role in the testing the JBMS.

Mr Williamson said Customs and MPI electronic border systems will be kept running for 18 months, which will allow the cargo industry to choose when to transfer to the new system.


X-ray transfer offers biosecurity boost

In July Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy welcomed the beginning of trials for the use of x-ray images to screen airline baggage before it arrives in New Zealand.

He said the trials are a world-first and involve the transfer of aviation security x-ray images from Melbourne Airport to Auckland for passengers on Air New Zealand flights, while the passenger is on the flight.

“This technology will allow biosecurity staff to assess the x-ray images before the plane touches down. Any bag containing biosecurity risk items will then be matched with the passenger, who will face further scrutiny by officials upon landing,” Minister Guy said.

If the trials are successful, MPI would look to extend the system to other major Australian airports.

In the longer term, x-ray image transfer could be applied to routes with higher biosecurity risk to New Zealand, such as those from South East Asia, parts of Europe and the Pacific.

“MPI currently will continue to use surveys, declaration forms, detector dogs, x-ray screening, and random physical searches to monitor biosecurity risk among air passengers.

“The system could provide another powerful tool for MPI to protect New Zealand from dangerous pests and disease,” Mr Guy said


No cut to biosecurity funding

In June this year primary industries minister Natahan Guy reacted to criticism of cuts in biosecurity funding.

“To make it crystal clear, funding has not been cut for biosecurity in Budget 2013” Minister Guy said

According to the minister appropriations for ‘border biosecurity monitoring and clearance’ were temporarily higher in last year’s Budget because $5 million was brought forward from last year to pay for the Joint Border Management System as well as $1 million for the merger to create the Ministry for Primary Industries.

“Biosecurity is my number one priority as Minister, and overall funding has doubled since 2000. We now have a major programme of work underway to improve what is already a world-class system.

Mr Guy said his ministry is working closely with Australia on foot and mouth preparedness and that a recent Auditor-General report noted that MPI has been successful in responding to incursions, and plans are being updated to deal with pests, improve surveillance and targeting, and hold ongoing regular exercises and simulations.

He said the Sustainable Farming Fund is investing $8.8 million into 42 projects including biological controls for pests.


Welcome fine for trouser fish smuggler‏

The Ministry for Primary Industries has applauded the fine handed down to a Vietnamese man who tried to smuggle tropical fish into New Zealand in his trouser pockets.

The man pleaded guilty early in September to a charge under the Biosecurity Act 1993. He was fined $2000 after being convicted for the attempted possession of unauthorised goods, knowing they were unauthorised.

Border officials intercepted the man in August at Auckland airport with seven live fish in his pockets in plastic bags. He was picked up after water was seen dripping down his trouser legs.

The judge said he found it difficult to believe Mr Nguyen was ignorant of New Zealand’s biosecurity law, and called Mr Nguyen’s actions a “clumsy attempt” to smuggle the fish into the country.

“This is someone who deliberately broke our biosecurity laws. The individual concerned clearly gave little consideration about the risk this type of behaviour poses to New Zealand’s primary industries and native flora and fauna,” said Dave Blake, MPI Investigation Manager North.

“The fish could have been carrying any manner of disease or pest. That’s why this country has strict biosecurity import regulations,” he said.


Scorpion Sting

Four people will be appearing in the Queenstown and Christchurch District Courts after being caught by Ministry for Primary Industries investigators allegedly smuggling live scorpions into Queenstown.

Four men are charged with various breaches to the Biosecurity Act 1993 after six Black Rock Scorpions (Urodacus manicatus) were allegedly smuggled from Australia through Christchurch International Airport and then into Queenstown.

In April this year, MPI received information that a Queenstown man was in possession of scorpion. As a result of this information a search was carried out in April and a live scorpion was discovered.

Further investigations revealed four men were involved in the smuggling ring and that all of the scorpions had been destroyed. MPI is satisfied that all of the smuggled scorpions have been accounted for.

The maximum penalty for each of the charges faced by the men is five years in prison or a fine of $100,000.

South Island Compliance Manager, John Slaughter says this type of alleged offending is up there with the worst of its kind, and could have had serious biosecurity implications had the scorpions escaped.

“We have expert advice that these scorpions could survive in the New Zealand climate, so it’s safe to say that we view this as an exceptionally stupid thing to do.”

Black Rock Scorpions

The Black Rock Scorpion is a dark-coloured species that can grow up to 55mm in length and is often found living under rocks and logs in Australia. Its sting can cause inflammation and pain for several hours in humans. It is a relatively long-lived species and can survive for eight years or more in the wild.


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