AUSTRALIAN and New Zealand regulations surrounding brown marmorated stink bugs are not up to the task, according to the ocean transport division of Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ocean.

WWO (part of Wallenius Wilhelmsen Group) recently had one of its ships expelled from Australian waters after stink bugs were discovered on the ro-ro vessel MV Thalatta (IMO 9702455).

This was the third ship expelled from Australian waters this stink bug season.

According to WWO, current regulations are inconsistent and ineffective, arguing:

  • The criteria for classifying a country “high risk” have been clearly defined by neither the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (Australia) nor the Ministry for Primary Industries (New Zealand).
  • Current regulations are inconsistent between different modes of transport. For example, if live or dead BMSB are detected on a ro-ro carrier, the entire vessel is scrutinised, leading to long delays, while detection in a container generally is limited to that single unit. In addition, airfreight cargo does not receive the same amount of scrutiny.
  • The DAWR has suggested carriers refuse untreated cargo from countries not classified ‘high risk’, rather than expanding regulation to these countries. WWO argues this would create “an untenable situation”, with carriers required to adopt practices out of step with regulation.

WWO wants its customers to lobby the DAWR and MPI to:

  • Increase alignment of BMSB risk areas, treatment windows and seasons;
  • Allow development and use of near/on-shore treatment solutions in Australia and New Zealand;
  • Initiate increased direct engagement between regulators and exporters/importers by analysing their supply chains to ensure BMSB and other pests do not contaminate cargo in the first place.
  • Introduce consistent regulations and application of regulations across all vessel types and transportation modes.

WW Ocean chief commercial officer Simon White said they were “committed to doing all we can to maintain Australia’s and New Zealand’s biosecurity”.

“Regrettably, however, the current regulations are neither consistent nor effective; they continue to pose a risk to the agricultural industry, while delaying cargo that is essential to many sectors of the economy,” Mr White said.