Additional biosecurity checks are being introduced for international yachts visiting the Northland region of New Zealand, located at the top end of the North Island. The tests will be made by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).

MPI is joining with New Zealand Customs and the NZDF, focusing on Northland as the arrival point for most international yachts visiting New Zealand. In a statement MPI indicated that it expects some 500 international yachts to arrive in the region this season.

“Our main objective is to stop fruit fly entering New Zealand,” says James Reed, MPI team manager, North Ports. “But there are also other everyday items carried by vessels that have biosecurity risks, including various foods carried in the stores. We even come across live animals from time to time.”

As with previous seasons, MPI has despatched additional staff to the region to allow intensive inspection of incoming vessels. MPI quarantine officers will also coordinate directly with the Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft and the Royal New Zealand Navy’s Seasprite helicopters to carry out surveillance from the Northland coastline.

“Our Orion aircraft provide early warning of yacht arrivals while the Seasprite conducts surveillance of the Northland coastline to ensure all vessels have been checked,” Air Commodore Darryn Webb, the Air Component Commander, pointed out.

According to Reed, the NZDF’s surveillance missions will help identify incoming yachts and any that attempt to seek shelter in local coastal bays prior to arriving at their designated port of arrival – an offence under the Biosecurity Act.

“Small craft intending to enter New Zealand are required to submit advanced notice advising their intended place of arrival and providing detail about the vessel and crew,” Reed adds. “They are then required to be cleared by MPI officers at a designated port of first arrival that is geared up to handle any biosecurity risk.”