Car carrier

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Vinsen cancels trip to work on crisis

David Vinsen, chief executive officer of VIA (Imported Motor Vehicle Industry Association) has decided to cancel his long planned motor cycling holiday in Australia to return to New Zealand to assist in resolving the industry crisis surrounding the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) infestations in pure car carriers arriving from Japan. 

In a phone call to Autofile last night Vinsen explained that the issue was sufficiently serious that he would be cancelling his planned trip and return home. 

“I believe the industry needs to call on all of our resources to work through this issue as quickly as possible, VIA will provide the leadership necessary to coordinate all efforts required to resolve this matter as quickly as possible,” says Vinsen. 

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Company urges call to action

Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) officials met with industry representatives yesterday in an effort to explore ways of finding a solution to the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) issue that is currently affecting imports of vehicles to New Zealand.
Immediately following the meeting, Jacanna Customs and Freight issued an email to clients and interested parties in the automotive industry in an effort to find a suitable resolution.

“There is still no solution for the current vessels but all parties are working hard to find a way a forward.

“The only viable product that MPI recognises (apart from heat treatment which cannot be done for this volume of cars) will eliminate the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is to fumigate with Sulfuryl Fluoride. The issue is that this product cannot be used in New Zealand territory and needs to be imported.

“Australia will not allow the vessels to berth to have the treatment carried out and the fumigation companies are weary of doing the fumigation at sea.

“The best option is for the MPI to allow Sulfuryl Fluoride to be used under emergency situation in New Zealand ports. MPI have already put this in front of the Minister but more pressure needs to be applied for a quick response. If we leave the process to play out it could take weeks.

“We believe that a way forward is for you and everyone that you know to contact your local MP and tell them the hardship that this situation will have on you and your business and all your associated businesses like compliance centres, paint shops etc …. get them to contact their MPs as well.

“The more pressure that can be put on Government to ratify Sulfuryl Fluoride the sooner it can be used and the sooner you will be able to get your vehicles. Please contact your local MP today!”  

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What are stink bugs?

The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) and the yellow spotted stink bug (YSSB) has spread to the United States and Europe from Asia. However, the stink bugs have not established in New Zealand.

The Ministry of Primary Industries have caught the pest at the border many times, hitchhiking on passengers and in imported goods such as vehicles and machinery.

 What is the risk?

BMSB and YSSB are agricultural pests found in Asia, notably China, Japan, and Korea; it has aggressively invaded the US and could successfully establish in New Zealand.

How the insect destroys crops:

  • The insect feeds on more than 300 hosts, primarily fruit trees and woody ornamentals but also field crops.
  • A broad range of crops can be attacked including: citrus; pipfruit; stonefruit; berries, grapes, asparagus, soybeans, sweetcorn, honeysuckle, maple, butterfly bush, cypress, hibiscus and roses.
  • Adults generally feed on mature and immature fruit, while nymphs feed on leaves and stems as well as fruit.
  • It severely disfigures fruit and renders it unmarketable, which results in control costs and production losses.

In the US some farmers have reported crop losses of up to 95 per cent. 

BMSB is not a risk to human health but is a public nuisance. When disturbed or crushed it emits a characteristic, unpleasant and long-lasting odour.

 What do they look like?
  • Adults are approximately 1.7 cm long, around a size of a one dollar coin, with a distinctive “shield” shape. 
  • There are currently two types, the brown and the yellow spotted.
  • Underside is white/tan, legs and antennae are brown with white banding.
  • Eggs are barrel shaped, and found in clusters of 20–30 eggs. These eggs are laid on the underside of leaves.


How are the stink bugs currently affecting New Zealand?

The presence of stink bugs onboard four car carriers bound for New Zealand have forced the ships to leave New Zealand waters and await correct fumigation procedures.

Three of the car carriers had already reached New Zealand’s shores with stink bug infestations: Armacup​’s Tokyo Car, Mitsui OSK Line’s Courageous Ace, and the latest being Toyofuji’s Sepang Express.

The fourth, Glovis Caravel, was bound for New Zealand, however the car carrier was redirected on Wednesday after a check conducted at sea found the two types of stink bugs, the YSSB and BMSB.
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Four car carriers turned away due to stink bugs

There are currently four car carriers that have been turned away from New Zealand due to a serious biosecurity risk posed by Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs (BMSB). The car carriers are now awaiting instruction on a suitable fumigation locations.

Another Japanese car carrier turned away 

The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) has advised that live Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs (BMSB) have been found on another car carrier vessel loaded with vehicles and machinery from Japan last night. 

Toyofuji Shipping have officially been advised that the Sepang Express, that arrived last night, must leave New Zealand territorial waters and undertake a fumigation treatment with Sulfuryl Fluoride that kills BMSB.

However, the Sulfuryl Fluoride that kills BMSB is currently unavailable to be administered in New Zealand.

Toyofuji Shipping is currently seeking the best location for the Sepang Express to be treated off-shore so the vessel can return and discharge its vehicles in New Zealand.

Prior to this, the vessel was “thermo-fogged” to agitate any insect contamination from the cargo, after waiting the advised venting time of 6-9 hours, MPI Officers found a significant amount of live BSMB.

The Sepang Express’s current location

 Update on the Corageous Ace and Glovis Caravel

After the discovery of BMSB and Yellow Spotted Stink Bug (YSSB) on Mitsui Osk Line’s (MOL) Pure Car Carrier (PCC) Courageous Ace, the car carrier has sailed to Brisbane for possible treatment.

Due to the detection of BMSB on the Courageous Ace, MOL have elected to divert the PCC Glovis Caravel and are awaiting instruction on a suitable fumigation location.

MOL is currently negotiating with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources in Australia for fumigation procedures in Australian territorial waters.

Pending approval from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources the Courageous Ace and Glovis Caravel have been asked to drift at their currently locations.

Currently the Glovis Caravel is near New Caledonia

MOL have alternative locations to Australia that can fumigate using Sulfuryl Fluoride if required, pending above negotiations. 

Update on Tokyo Car

Armacup Maritime Services’ Tokyo Car has also been sent from the Port of Auckland after BMSB was found on the car carrier.

MPI officers found more than 100 BSMBs, and about 30 other insects.

The boat arrived on February 11, but was not allowed to unload cargo and ordered out of New Zealand waters, an MPI spokesman said.

Tokyo Car was the second car-carrier ship from Japan to be turned away in a week due to stink bug and other insect infestations.

 Where are all these bugs coming from?

Interceptions of stink bugs on vessels originating from Japan have been on the rise.

Paul Hallett, a Manager of the Biosecurity and Environment branch from the MPI, believes that BMSB are getting on the vessels via the loaded vehicles and machinery, as it is unlikely that populations would exist on the vessel.

“When aggregating BMSB look for dark secure places to hide, which are often in inanimate objects like vehicles and machinery, and also near a food source,” says Hallett.

“They stay in the aggregation over winter and wake up due to day light length, temperature and other factors.  They aggregate as adults hence why we don’t find eggs or nymphs.  They are really good at hiding – this means we can only rely on visual inspection to a certain point when verifying compliance – hence why other verification tools are used (i.e. fogging).”

“At this stage MPI is undertaking a review of the current requirements contained in the Craft Risk Management Standard for Vessels and the Vehicle IHS with an aim to confirming if our regulations are appropriately targeted or if they need to be altered,” added Hallett.

“This is being informed by the current interception data, what we know about the Japan populations of BMSB, general biology and behaviour of the bug.”

A Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB)


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Stink bug found on car carrier

 A serious biosecurity risk has forced Mitsui Osk Line (MOL) cargo ship, the Courageous Ace, to reload its car shipment and head back out to sea.

A brown marmorated stink bug

 The ship is now drifting off Auckland’s coast as the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and MOL work together to clear the ship and its cargo of the bugs which could decimate New Zealand’s crops if the insect was to enter the country.

 MOL spokesman Yaro Nikitin says in an email to customers that live Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs (BMSBs) were discovered on board the vessel on February 6.

 “It is with deepest regret and apologies that we would like to advise you of the following circumstances surrounding the Courageous Ace V.121A,” Nikitin says.

“MPI suspended operations and issued a direction to treat the vessel’s cargo holds with fogging agent,” he says.

The vessel was treated as per the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) direction the following day but an MPI inspection on February 8 “revealed a significantly large quantity of alive BMSBs”.          

“Due to the biosecurity risk that the vessel poses to the New Zealand economy, MPI have directed us to re-load all import cargo onto the vessel and undertake treatment offshore, Nikitin says.

An MOL spokesman spoken to by Autofile says MOL and MPI are looking into further options to ensure the bugs are fumigated before the ship can return to the Ports of Auckland. However, he wouldn’t say what the options were but that it didn’t include the ship returning to its port of origin.

MPI says stink bugs are hard to see, hard to kill, travel far and they breed fast. The bugs feed heavily on a wide variety of plant species and would attack grapes, kiwifruit, apples, citrus and stone fruit, corn and many other valuable crops. Adults are about the size of a $1 coin with white banding on the antennae, alternate black and white markings on the abdomen, its eggs are light green, barrel shaped, and found in clusters of 20-30.

MPI have advised that although the BMSB is found in China, Japan and now USA and Italy, the cause of the large quantity of the insects noted on the vessel is undetermined. 

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