Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry: Managing biosecurity risks associated with high-risk sea containers.

More than half a million sea containers are imported into the country each year. These sea containers may carry biosecurity risks in the form of pests or diseases that could harm our economy, environment, health, and well-being.

I conducted a performance audit of how the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry identifies, inspects, and manages the decontamination of sea containers that pose the highest biosecurity risks.

The Ministry is responsive to emerging risks. However, the Ministry has had more than 2 years to implement a revised Import Health Standard for sea containers, but it is not yet fully in place. The delay in full implementation of the standard means that the Ministry is not as effective as it could be in checking and promoting industry compliance.

The Ministry needs to improve the collection of information for identifying high-risk sea containers. It also needs to take measures to mitigate the risk of pests moving off sea containers before inspection, better monitor how sea containers are cleaned, and ensure that fumigation is effective in eradicating pests.

I acknowledge that the Ministry is taking steps to address the issues raised in my report.

I thank Ministry staff and stakeholders for their help and co-operation during the audit.


K B Brady
Controller and Auditor-General

18 May 2006

page top