As the result of two successful prosecutions by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), two men have been sentenced for separate breaches to the Biosecurity Act after being caught with prohibited plant material. In the first of two cases, Yaping Wang was intercepted on January 12 at Auckland Airport with a number of packets of seeds concealed in his jacket and luggage after arriving on a flight from China. The court heard that Wang blamed his mother for the seeds and believed that she had packed them to ensure he had food on his journey. Judge McElrea was not impressed considering the seeds were wrapped up in 14 socks and buried at the bottom his luggage. Wang pleaded guilty to one charge of attempting to possess unauthorised goods under section 154 of the Biosecurity Act 1993. He was convicted and fined $2000, and ordered to pay Court costs of $132.89.
In the second case, Philip Chong was caught importing prohibited plant material after packages were intercepted by MPI staff at the international mail centre in Auckland under a false name. In March MPI investigators executed a search warrant at Chong’s address and seized a number of seeds as well as cuttings that had been planted in his garden. Chong pleaded guilty to two charges of possessing unauthorised goods under section 154 of the Biosecurity Act 1993. He was convicted and sentenced to 200 hours community work for the plant-related charge and 80 hours for the seeds-related charge to be served concurrently.
Craig Hughes, Manager North Passenger and Mail, Border Clearance and Services, MPI says, “both of these cases are blatant breaches of the Biosecurity act and we are happy to see successful convictions for both men. It is neither legal nor wise to import plant material into the country without approval and doing presents a very real threat to New Zealand’s biosecurity. These are two examples that show there is a significant price to pay for those who choose to ignore the rules that protect our country from exotic pests and diseases.”