Controls on the movement of fresh fruit and vegetables in an Auckland suburb have been brought in as part of the response to the discovery of a Queensland fruit fly.
The Primary Industries Ministry has banned transporting whole fresh fruit and vegetables outside a 1.5-kilometre zone around Avondale set up after a fruit fly was found in a trap.
A stricter ban, preventing the movement of the goods at all, was in place in smaller 200-metre radius near where the pest was found in the suburb.
The restrictions are likely to stay in place for at least a couple of weeks.
"These controls are an important precaution while we investigate whether there are any further fruit flies in the area," says the ministry's Andrew Coleman.
"We need to limit the transport of any material that could carry the fly or its larvae while we investigate the situation."
He says the ministry needed the support of locals and encouraged residents to avoid composting fruit and vegetable waste and it would provide bins in the area for their disposal.
Biosecurity staff are desperately searching for more signs of the pest which poses a serious threat to the $6.5 billion horticulture industry.
Investigators are setting up more traps in the area and checking fruit trees, vegetable gardens and rubbish bins.
Mr Coleman said if more fruit flies were found the ministry would not conduct aerial spraying operations as other options were more effective.
The Queensland fruit fly has been detected twice before in New Zealand in Northland in 1995 and in Auckland in 1996. Increased surveillance found no further sign of the pest.The Greens blame a lax biosecurity regime for allowing the fruit fly into the country.
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