THIS is Causing a Stink in New Zealand’s Car Imports

There are three ships full of Japanese cars of various makes and models floating aimlessly off the coast of New Zealand, after being turned away by authorities upon the discovery of stink bugs aboard them. Yup, it’s stink bug causing a stink in New Zealand’s car imports.

These creatures are native to East Asia, and are a farmer’s nightmare, least of all because of their stench. They feed on the liquid of fruits and emit toxins that kill plants. Agriculture is a huge contributor to the country’s economy, and a pest such as this presents a grave threat in more ways than one: a healthy crop contributes to a healthy ecosystem, as well as food supply, trade and, thus, jobs—in other words, the survival of plants, animals and humans are at stake.

Anyone who has been to New Zealand knows how strict the country’s biosecurity laws are. (This writer once had to throw away a sandwich and a packet of salted peanuts she got from the plane, before being allowed entry into the country.) If you think that New Zealand is overreacting, well, the country is an isolated landmass and the species there have evolved with a high level of endemism, meaning that the introduction of a foreign species into the native ecosystem could wipe out local species in one fell swoop.

The fumigants used to kill stink bugs, methyl bromide and sulfuryl fluoride, cannot be used in this situation: one causes irreparable damage to upholstery and the usage of the other is not allow in New Zealand. Only the Ports of Auckland has heat treatment facilities but can only handle, at most, 15 cars a day.

While the agriculture sector is protected, the automotive sector is starting to suffer as stock runs low and deliveries are not met, and no new sales can be made until the backlog is cleared.

Amidst all these, there’s a crucial question that remains unanswered: how did these little stinkers get on board in the first place?


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