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Cargo ship sent away from Auckland Harbour after stink bugs discovered on board

Cargo ship sent away from Auckland Harbour after stink bugs discovered on board
MIRI SCHROETER February 10 2018

Cargo was being unloaded off a ship in the Port of Auckland when over a hundred stink bugs were found.

However, several pieces of heavy machinery that could not be put back on the Japanese ship have since been fumigated in New Zealand.

"[Courageous Ace] was directed to stop discharging, raise its ramp and seal the vessel," an Ministry for Primary Industries spokesman said.

"Given the number of organisms found both on board the vessel, and in the discharged vehicles, MPI decided to manage the risk by re-loading the vehicles onto the vessel and directing re-shipment of the entire cargo."

The vessel and its cargo would have to be treated offshore before to returning to New Zealand, he said.

Due to the high numbers of the pest found, no port in New Zealand had the capacity to fumigate the ship, forcing it to be sent to Australia on Tuesday.

The noxious pest could cause hundreds of millions of dollars to the New Zealand economy if it makes it way onto Kiwi soil. The stink bug eats apples, kiwifruit, corn, tomatoes, cherries, wheat, maize and more.

Initial routine surveillance on Courageous Ace found one live yellow stink bug and 50 dead brown marmorated bugs.

Further inspections uncovered another 19 live yellow stink bugs and even more dead bugs. Courageous Ace came from Kanda, Japan, where stink bugs are native insects.

Website Marine Traffic estimates the ship will arrive in Brisbane, Australia, on February 14.

Information from the MPI said the bugs could be a damaging economic pest and a significant household nuisance.

Stink bugs release a chemical when threatened, emitting a pungent odour.

In December, 15 stink bugs were found alive in Christchurch after a fumigation failure.

They were supposed to have been gassed, but a cluster of stink bugs left Italy alive before slipping past New Zealand border control.

They were discovered hidden inside sealed panels on a mobile concrete plant upon arrival to Christchurch.