Primary Industries

Fresh melon imports suspended after fruit disease found

Biosecurity New Zealand has suspended fresh melon imports from Queensland after an unwanted fruit disease was detected at the border.

The department says routine testing on Friday detected cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (CGMMV) on a consignment of watermelons from Queensland, Australia.

Biosecurity NZ plants and pathways director Peter Thomson said CGMMV did not pose a risk to human health, but if introduced to New Zealand, it could have a serious impact on local production of cucurbit crops. The virus can deform young leaves and damage fruit.

Fruit from the cucurbit family included watermelon, cucumber, honeydew melon, rock melon, scallopini, zucchini, and pumpkin, Thomson said.

"There is no suggestion the disease is in New Zealand. As a precautionary measure, Biosecurity NZ has suspended imports of fresh cucurbit fruit from Queensland."

Thomson said the suspension currently affected several melon consignments that have been placed on hold at the border. Biosecurity officals were working with importers to determine whether or not their product would be able to enter the New Zealand market, he said.

"We are also working closely with Australian authorities who have agreed to not issue export certificates for any new consignments until they have investigated the situation and taken corrective measures," said Thomson.

The length of the suspension would depend on how quickly Australian authorities could investigate the situation and put measures in place to assure New Zealand that their product was free from the disease, he said.

"The import season for water, honey, and rock melons from Australia ends shortly. This will reduce any impact of the suspension for New Zealand consumers."

The virus was also detected twice at the border last year on two consignments of fresh watermelon from Australia.

This article was originally published on RNZ and re-published with permission.

Credible information is crucial in a crisis.

The pandemic is pushing us into an unknown and uncertain future. As the crisis unfolds the need for accurate, balanced and thorough reporting will be vital. Newsroom’s team of journalists is working hard to bring you the facts but, now more than ever, we need your support.

Reader donations are critical to what we do. If you can help us, please click the button to ensure we can continue to provide quality independent journalism you can trust.


Newsroom does not allow comments directly on this website. We invite all readers who wish to discuss a story or leave a comment to visit us on Twitter or Facebook. We also welcome your news tips and feedback via email: Thank you.

With thanks to our partners