CRUISE ship passengers who bring foods into New Zealand could be in for a shock.

Biosecurity officers now have the ability to fine those who bring ashore foods or other items that could carry dangerous pests or diseases.

The new fines allow officers to issue infringement notices of NZ$400 (AU$380) to cruise ship passengers who unintentionally break New Zealand’s biosecurity rules.


Biosecurity New Zealand already can prosecute passengers who intentionally smuggle risk goods ashore.

“So far we haven’t had to issue any fines, which suggests the cruise lines are doing a good job of informing passengers about their biosecurity responsibilities,” said Steve Gilbert, border clearance services director, Biosecurity New Zealand.

He said until recently, fines could be issued to travellers who were permanently leaving a vessel.

“This is about empowering our officers to send a clear message about how important biosecurity is to New Zealand,” Mr Gilbert said.

“Some people think cruise ship biosecurity is all about detector dogs. But ultimately our officers are our most important asset. We don’t always need to bring in detector dog teams to help with clearances, but we couldn’t protect New Zealand without our skilled and dedicated officers.”