The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is notifying New Zealand's relevant trading partners after a Queensland fruit fly was found in Auckland.
Primary Industries Minister David Carter told Parliament the government agency "initiated an immediate response" after finding one fly earlier this week and is working with stakeholders to keep them updated.
"The response is, firstly, to minimise any adverse trade reaction, and that is why the Ministry for Primary Industries is starting now to notify our relevant trading partners," Carter said in Question Time. "We need to quickly find whether this trapping is dealing with a single insect or whether a breeding population has been established, in which case an eradication response would be commenced immediately."
The Queensland fruit fly is considered to be Australia's most serious insect pest of fruit and vegetable crops, and if it established locally, would pose "serious consequences for New Zealand's horticultural industry," according to the ministry's website. The fly has been found in New Zealand twice before, once in 1995 and once in 1996.
MPI deputy director general for compliance and response Andrew Coleman said the insect can damage a wide range of fruit and vegetables, and that it's "vital that we ascertain if the insect is a solitary find or if there is a wider population in Auckland."
The ministry is working closely with trading partners and the horticultural industry to minimise the risk of trade restrictions for New Zealand growers and exporters.
New Zealand exported just over $2 billion of fruit and vegetables in the year ended March 30. That's 4.2 percent of the $47.48 billion of goods sold overseas in the year.