Stink bugs have been found on a fourth ship bound for New Zealand. Two types of stink bug were found on the car carrier Glovis Caravel, operated by Japanese shipping company Mitsui OSK Lines, on the weekend. The ship, bound for the Ports of Auckland, was redirected on Wednesday after a check conducted at sea, the company’s pure car carrier (PCC) manager Malcolm Jackson said.
“We decided not to risk bringing that bug to New Zealand.” Jackson said the company was now looking for ports in Australia where the ship could be fumigated of its brown marmorated and yellow-spotted stink bugs. Three car carriers have already reached New Zealand’s shores with stink bug infestations this month: Armacup’s Tokyo Car, Mitsui OSK Line’s Courageous Ace, and Toyofuji’s Sepang Express.
All three were turned away. The port was largely empty of cars on Wednesday. “It’s had a huge effect. Just about every manufacturer has been affected into New Zealand,” Jackson said. “Japan is high-risk and there are some meetings being held very soon to discuss the whole car industry at the moment.”
Jackson said Mitsui OSK had conducted a check of all ships bound for New Zealand after bugs were discovered on the Courageous Ace. An MPI spokeswoman was unable to confirm stink bugs had been found on the Caravel, but a spokesman said earlier in the day that the third ship, the Sepang Express, was found to have 30 dead brown marmorated stink bugs on board and was treated with a knock down spray.
“After this treatment, a further 19 of the bugs were found on the vessel along with other insects.” The spokesman said the cargo would need to be fully treated before it returned to New Zealand waters. MPI would hold a meeting with involved parties to discuss the situation and ways to manage the risk, he said.
Ports of Auckland spokesman Matt Ball said that there was no impact on the Auckland Council-owned company or its employees, “except for the fact that our vehicle-handling wharves are a bit quieter than usual”. About 6000 cars and heavy vehicles were unable to be unloaded, but they were expected back once approved for import, he said. “We may end up having a quiet February and a really busy month when they all come back.”
The noxious pest could cause hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to the New Zealand economy if it made it ashore. Threatened foods included apples, kiwifruit, corn, tomatoes, cherries and wheat. It could also invade properties and affect gardens. Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) and Federated Farmers have both expressed concerns over the recent discoveries of stink bugs.
KVH chief executive Barry O’Neil said that the brown stink bug could destroy fruit and vegetable industries. “These are ships that have had hundreds of stink bugs on them and it is nothing like we have seen before.”
Federated Farmers biosecurity spokesman Guy Wigley earlier said the stink bug would have a huge financial impact on farmers if found here. “I am worried. MPI have had this pest on their radar for a number of years.” Stink bugs are native insects in Japan and hibernate in contained spaces during the northern hemisphere winter. The insect releases a chemical when threatened, emitting a pungent odour.
Sea News, February, 15