Staying ahead of biosecurity risks

23 Sep 2016



With Biosecurity the number one priority for our growers, using every tool to keep pests out of horticulture in New Zealand is essential.

So I was pleased to receive the Ministry for Primary Industry’s (MPI) Emerging Risks System for Biosecurity Activity Report this week.

This reports on a robust system to keep us alert to possibilities by identifying and tracking progress of new, emerging, and potential biosecurity threats, with photos and useful information about recent alerts.

The Emerging Risk System (ERS) proactively identifies and manages risks, getting in before disaster occurs. This might mean tracking pests that are on the move from their country of origin, or that are particularly adept at using entry pathways, such as the invasive brown marmorated stink bug that tries to come in via shipping containers.

Notifications can be made by anyone, and assessments are made all the way through the system to determine risks and actions. There is also a course for rapid action where there is urgency.

Since the ERS was introduced in August 2012, a total of 5020 alerts have been received, and 916 have been progressed.

There are about 35 new incursions into New Zealand every week, so everyone needs to be vigilant. As Biosecurity 2025 says, every New Zealander and every New Zealand business is a part of the team keeping our country secure.

The brown marmorated stink bug is an example of a pest from the United States that is starting to spread through Canada and parts of Europe. While it will be devastating for horticulture if it gets across the border, it is most likely to establish itself in an urban setting first, where it can wreak havoc on houses; gardeners, city councils and urbanites will be our first line of defence.


The time to be particularly alert is September to April – the autumn and winter months in the northern hemisphere when the bug hides in dark sheltered places and inadvertently hitches a ride south.

MPI has a lot of information on its website and you can alert the emerging risks team to any new threats via

If you see a marmorated stink bug, capture it and call 0800 80 99 66.

-Mike Chapman, CEO