A trial accreditation program has boosted biosecurity for international cruise ships and will be expanded for future seasons, New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) informed.
The scheme involves collecting background information about vessel stores and pest management practices to determine biosecurity risk.
“It is about knowing where the stores came from, and making sure they are free of biosecurity risk should passengers bring them ashore,” Steve Gilbert, MPI Border Clearance Services Director, said.
MPI checked information supplied by cruise lines at the beginning of the season. Two cruise lines took part in the trial.
Further checks were carried out during the summer. Vessels were also expected to provide additional biosecurity education to passengers before landing in New Zealand.
As part of the arrangement, accredited vessels received less biosecurity scrutiny on the gangway by MPI biosecurity officers when they arrived in New Zealand.
The extra biosecurity education proved its worth with MPI finding fewer risk goods on passengers leaving accredited vessels than ships that weren’t part of the trial, as explained by Gilbert.
“Even when our officers did pick up fruit and other goods from passengers, we had peace of mind the items were free of risk, as they already been vetted under the inventory and pest management controls required under the scheme,” Gilbert noted.
“By reducing gangway inspections, the scheme has also allowed us to free up officers to focus on higher risk work,” he further said.
As disclosed, the scheme will be expanded to cover more cruise vessels coming to New Zealand.
Accredited vessels made 401 port visits to New Zealand during the summer season. The seizure rate was 0.9 for accredited vessels compared with 1.5 for uncredited vessels.