September marks the start of the risk season for Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs in New Zealand and Australia. This year, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Portugal, and Ukraine have been added to the list of ‘stink bug risk countries’.
In response to the rapid expansion of Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs (BMSB) throughout Europe and North America, Australia and New Zealand have revised their biosecurity requirements and seasonal measures ahead of the 2020/21 BMSB risk season.
The regulatory requirements primarily target importers of goods and cover their responsibility to ensure that certain types of cargoes are properly treated and certified prior to arriving in Australia or New Zealand. However, as ships infested by stink bugs may be refused entry into the two countries, it is also important that ship operators and their crews are familiar with the BMSB seasonal measures applicable at any given time. Crews must stay vigilant to the presence of BMSB and other exotic insects onboard and report any onboard detections to the relevant quarantine authorities at the ship’s destination.
Four new countries have been added to the list of ‘BMSB risk countries’, which now totals 37 countries: Australian authorities also announced Belarus, Denmark, Ireland, Poland, Sweden, United Kingdom and Chile have been identified as ‘emerging BMSB risk countries’ and that random onshore inspections of goods from these countries may be undertaken during the 2020/21 season.
Cargo transhipped in any of the BMSB risk countries may also be subject to the seasonal measures. Furthermore, Australian authorities continue to pay special attention to all ro-ro vessels that berth at, load, or tranship in BMSB risk countries.
Due to differences in climatic conditions in the two countries, the BMSB risk season in Australia is a month longer than in New Zealand:
Australia: 1 September 2020 – 31 May 2021
New Zealand: 1 September 2020 – 30 April 2021
Although the two countries continue to work closely together to ensure that seasonal measures are consistent where possible, they will not be conducting BMSB treatment for each other. For example, if goods have been exported from New Zealand for not meeting BMSB import conditions, they will not be permitted to be treated in Australia, and vice versa.
Why is the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug a problem?
The BMSB, or Halyomorpha halys, is an agricultural pest that feeds on, and can severely damage, fruit and vegetable crops. The pest has spread from its native range in East Asia to form established populations in North America and Europe but is not yet established in Australia and New Zealand. If the pest were to find its way to New Zealand or Australia it could seriously harm the countries’ agricultural economies and unique environments.
Like the Asian Gypsy Moth, the BMSB is considered a ‘hitchhiker pest’ that can spread via ships in international trade. BMSB adults seeking shelter from cold weather during winter months tend to find their way into vehicles, machinery, and other types of cargo.