As MPI Border Clearance Services Director, Steve Gilbert, explained, the scheme is about knowing where the stores came from, and making sure they are free of biosecurity risk should passengers bring them ashore.
MPI checked information supplied by cruise lines at the beginning of the season. Further checks were carried out during the summer. Vessels were also expected to provide additional biosecurity education to passengers before landing in New Zealand. As part of the arrangement, accredited vessels received less biosecurity scrutiny on the gangway by MPI biosecurity officers when they arrived in New Zealand.
Mr Gilbert says the extra biosecurity education proved its worth with MPI finding fewer risk goods on passengers leaving accredited vessels than ships that weren't part of trial.
"Even when our officers did pick up fruit and other goods from passengers, we had peace of mind the items were free of risk, as they already been vetted under the inventory and pest management controls required under the scheme", he explained.
Further advantages of the scheme, as presented by Mr Gilbert, is the minimization of gangway inspections, which gives officers the chance to focus on higher risk work, including inspecting cargo for brown marmorated stink bug, and helping clear the huge increase in tourist numbers at Auckland Airport. Except for this, the scheme improves the travel experience for disembarking passengers, as it means less holdups due to biosecurity checks.
Two cruise lines took part in the trial. Accredited vessels made 401 port visits to New Zealand during the summer season. The seizure rate (seizures of biosecurity risk goods per 1000 passengers) was 0.9 for accredited vessels compared with 1.5 for uncredited vessels.