Monday, October 17, 2005

Dead body, monkey intestines seized by border officials

Monkey intestines and an embalmed body are among items seized by New Zealand border officials, costing guilty travellers millions of dollars in fines.

The instant $200 fines have added more than $6 million to Crown coffers since being introduced in 2001 as the country's biosecurity authorities react to increasing pressure on New Zealand ports, a Christchurch daily newspaper reported today.

Biosecurity has been thrown into the spotlight in recent months as the country unwillingly becomes host to more exotic pests.

The latest invader, the didymo alga or "rock snot", has spread through pristine waterways, threatening New Zealand's reputation as a prime fishing destination.

Biosecurity New Zealand figures show about a third of travellers nabbed were Kiwis returning home. Europeans were caught almost as often, comprising about 20 per cent, while Asia and the Middle East, North America and Australia each contributed about 10 per cent of total fines.

Biosecurity NZ spokesman Phil Barclay said after inspection the embalmed body was allowed to enter the country.

But the 47kg of plant material packed into the coffin was destroyed. Monkey intestines were a delicacy in some Asian countries, he said.

Since 2001, the number caught has dropped from 9198 to 8618 travellers annually.

Story here.

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