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Thu 1 Mar 2007 In: New Zealand Daily News

MAF Biosecurity New Zealand is encouraging everyone attending this year's Mardi Gras parade and party in Sydney to declare all fruit, animal and plant products when returning to New Zealand. “Mardi Gras is a popular festival for New Zealanders, particularly amongst the gay, lesbian, and transgendered communities. The last thing we want is for a good time to be ruined through a lack of understanding of New Zealand's biosecurity requirements,” says Policy Director Douglas Birnie. All fruit, plant and animal products must be declared when returning to New Zealand. A failure to declare these items may result in an instant fine of $200 or, in the most serious of circumstances, imprisonment. “Obviously imposing fines is the last thing we want to do. For that reason we have been working hard to educate all New Zealanders prior to international travel. Gay and lesbian New Zealanders are a particularly well-travelled demographic and we do not want to see their time in Sydney ruined through an inadvertent breach of our biosecurity regulations,” he says. Fruit, plant and animal materials can carry diseases and unwanted pests that have the potential to severely damage New Zealand's environment and economy. This has necessitated some of the strictest biosecurity standards in the world. “If you're any doubt about items you are carrying – declare them! Our MAF officers will be there to assist with any questions or concerns you may have,” Douglas Birnie says.    

Credit: News Staff

First published: Thursday, 1st March 2007 - 12:00pm

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