Stink bugs: A practical guide for exporters and shippers

Tough new regulations to prevent the spread of stink bugs into Australia and New Zealand now affect many more countries. As the stink bug season looms, we examine how to ensure your cargo complies with the updated rules.

Stink bugs a practical guide original

What are stink bugs and why are they a problem?

The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is a pest that is native to East Asia but has become established in the US as well as many European countries, where it has caused severe damage to crops. Authorities in Australia and New Zealand have introduced tough regulations to ensure the bugs are not inadvertently transported into these countries on or in imported products.

What has changed in the stink bug regulations for this season?

One major change is that many more countries are affected by the regulations: they now cover almost every nation in Europe. Countries added to the list include Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Portugal and Ukraine. The rules are closely harmonised between Australia and New Zealand, but there are still differences. The stink bug season is a month longer in Australia, for example. Further changes to regulations may be inevitable.

When is the next stink bug season?

The stink bug season runs from 1 September to 31 May in Australia, and until 30 April in New Zealand. All cargo shipped to and arriving in the countries between these dates must be treated to reduce the chance of it carrying stink bugs.

What actions do cargo owners need to take?

Goods being shipped to Australia and New Zealand from countries deemed high-risk must be treated offshore by a treatment provider registered and approved by the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment or New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). Cargo that does not comply risks being turned away from port. “Cargo owners must also assess the biosecurity of their entire supply chain,” explains Alex Conjour, vice president, port and cargo operations, WW Ocean. “That means working with truckers and rail and barge providers to ensure stink bugs can’t hijack your equipment. It is the shipper’s responsibility to provide clean cargo.”

What are the treatment options?

WW Solutions has invested in treatment facilities at Zeebrugge, and Baltimore for US-Oceania trade, and encourages cargo owners to explore the options available at these ports. Treatment technologies include heat treatment of cargo and fumigation using sulfuryl fluoride. The Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment has set minimum standards for these treatments that must be adhered to.

Are the regulations likely to change?

Other countries could be added to the list of high-risk zones in the future.

What can I do to help prevent stink bugs in Oceania?

All exporters of products to Oceania, importers, treatment and logistics providers need to work together to combat the threat of stink bugs. Exporters should take the opportunity to not only engage with WW Ocean, but also the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment and New Zealand MPI on their biosecurity regulations.

“We need the industry to continue to advocate for effective regulations which target the threat at all origins and provide multiple options to mitigate it,” says Alex Conjour. “This BMSB challenge is not simply an administrative task which needs to be checked off. The threat is real, with dramatic environmental and financial consequences for shippers and carriers if live bugs are discovered on your cargo in Australia and New Zealand.”

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