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Cruise ship biosecurity trial to begin

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 11/10/2016

Passengers on accredited cruise ships should experience speedier disembarkation under a trial scheme to reduce biosecurity risk.

The Ministry of Primary Industries says the trial involves collecting background information about vessel stores.

Border clearance services director Steve Gilbert says cruise ship passengers are usually very compliant when it comes to biosecurity,.

"The material they bring ashore is mostly snack food from vessel stores," he said.

"If we know where the stores have come from and what checks they have undergone, we can have peace of mind that any food that leaves the vessel is free of pests and diseases."

The trial also involved getting assurances from cruise lines that vessels had strict systems for pest control and they actively promoted biosecurity messages.

Mr Gilbert said the scheme meant biosecurity staff could reduce some of the inspections they undertook on the gangway.

That would mean speedier disembarkation and also free up staff to focus on higher risk areas, such as flights coming in with passengers unfamiliar with New Zealand's biosecurity rules.

Mr Gilbert said MPI would start regularly checking accredited cruise lines in November to ensure the agreed practices were being undertaken.

Unaccredited cruise ships would continue to face the full range of controls on arrival, including bag inspections, x-ray scanning and scrutiny by detector dogs.

To become accredited, cruise lines have to demonstrate that they have appropriate systems in place to reduce biosecurity risk.

In the 2015-16 season, 32 international cruise ships made 466 port visits in New Zealand, unloading a total of 197,541 passengers.

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