Marmorated Stink Bug

by on 19 February 2018

Good Morning,

The complexity of the stink bug issue is long, so this note is split into two parts. First about the NZ operations, and secondly about the bug and the implications of it coming here.

 NZ Operations

 As we sit now five ships have been affected. Four have left NZ waters, while the 5th, Transfuture 5, has undergone rigorous inspection over some days, and was found to be bug free. The cargo has been discharged, and the vessel sailed on Saturday evening.

 Treatment of the 4 vessels is causing some difficulties. The use of poisonous gas to kill the bugs has a distinctly negative effect on humans also, and so it not easily done. All the crew has to come off a ship to allow full fumigation, but Maritime Law prohibits ships being left unattended for safety reasons in case crew intervention is needed. This results in a “catch 22” situation but this has been worked through in the case of the first two vessels.

The good news is that of the vessels which have sailed there are now plans in place to treat two of them and return them to New Zealand.

The Courageous Ace, and the Glovis Caravel will both be treated off shore and returned to NZ for inspection. They are due back in New Zealand on February 25th and 28th respectively. There is no guarantee that the ships will be bug free, but the Owners must be confident of a solution to make this decision. Assuming other vessels are not delayed this will result in a period of port congestion which Ports of Auckland has not been well equippedto manage in recent times.

The bugs are not selective on which vehicles they chose to settle in, and there are common factors around all of the sailings, and somehow the TF5 avoided the pest.The bugs are attracted to light, and it is possible the bright port lights in Japan attracted them at a certain time, but that is not known. Equally possible is that a swarm of the bugs were looking for a home, and picked NZ bound vehicles. We can only speculate, as there is no one single or common factor which has yet been identified.

As quickly as this threat arrived, it may go away, and we can only hope that is the case. 

There are other vessels on the water sailing towards NZ which will have to be inspected and cleared before discharge.

The downstream results within NZ are beginning to be felt. 

There are some thousands of vehicles delayed. These are both new vehicles and used imports. 

The delays will have a material effect on vehicle supply, and will cause pressure on all of the many people involved in processing and preparing vehicles for sale. Dealers may have some difficulty in delivering to promised schedules, compliance centres will suffer reduced volumes. These few sentences don’t reflect anywhere near the magnitude of the cost of the delays, and the implications of those costs. The delay in arriving vessels will also delay coastal movements and transhipments.

Having said that I have not heard one word of complaint from anyone involved in the process. Everyone of them understands the implication of this bug entering NZ, and they are all single-mindedly determined to do everything possible to make sure it doesn’t ever arrive.

Now to the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug itself: 

This bug is a huger threat to our agricultural economy and is costing millions in the USA, where it has imported itself.

One US article started with the words:

“Presently, there are no viable strategies for control of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug”.

These words are quite chilling from a country which previously did not have the bug, and now has this spread right through the country:


Comments are closed.