A bulk vessel, docked at PrimePort, Timaru,NZ was sent back to sea for fumigation after insect larvae was found on board.
The larvae was found on board the Glorious Sawara, on Tuesday (Jan 5), as part of a routine inspection by a Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) quarantine officer.
The ship was carrying palm kernel extract and MPI instructed the ship's operator to choose an option to manage the potential biosecurity risk posed by the larvae.
The vessel's operator chose to treat the larvae by fumigation.
Image: Graeme Tongs
The fumigant used was highly poisonous and meant the ship had to be sent out to sea, said PrimePort marine manager Arun Chaudhari.
"Sending the vessel out to sea for fumigation had not been done for a long time."
"The vessel could not be treated alongside and to manage the risk posed by the fumigant it had to be sent out to sea."
Finding insect larvae on board a vessel was also highly unusual, he said.
"Other ports do get vessels which sometimes present some sort of biosecurity threat but not Timaru. We normally don't find bugs in cargo on board a vessel. In fact there haven't been any recent incidents of ships posing biosecurity risks."
MPI should be commended for finding the larvae, he added. "This just goes to show MPI are on the ball and diligent."
An MPI spokesman said the vessel was inspected on Tuesday evening.
"MPI discovered insect larvae on the ends of two hold hatches on the vessel. The insect species had yet to be identified, he said.
The spokesman said the vessel operator was then given a number of options to mitigate any biosecurity risk.
"The options given to the operator included waiting for identification of the larvae species before deciding on further action.
"They also included undergoing treatment, destroying the cargo or re-shipment. The operator chose the treatment option."
MPI regularly intercepts biosecurity risk items from vessels/cargo, the spokesman said.
"Overseas vessels always pose a biosecurity risk, which is why MPI has a full-time quarantine officer based at the Timaru port."
The Glorious Sawara arrived from Malaysia and is currently in port and set to depart for Bluff on Sunday.