Two men sentenced in New Zealand for biosecurity breaches

Two men were recently sentenced for separate breaches of New Zealand's Biosecurity Act.

The New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries successfully prosecuted Yaping Wang and Philip Chong for possession of prohibited plant material.

Wang was taken into custody early this year when border control agents at Auckland Airport found a number of packages containing seeds in his luggage and jacket. He had arrived in New Zealand from China.

Wang told a court that he blamed his mother for the breach, saying she had packed the seeds to ensure that he had enough to eat while traveling. He eventually pleaded guilty to one charge of attempting to possess unauthorized goods under section 154 of the 1993 Biosecurity Act. After his conviction, he was fined $2,000 and ordered to pay his court costs.

Chong was arrested after trying to import plant material through the international mail center in Auckland. He used a false name and was intercepted by MPI staff. MPU investigators later obtained a warrant to search Chong's home, where they found a number of forbidden seeds and cuttings planted in his garden.

Chong pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 200 hours of community service for the plant-related charge and an additional 80 hours for the seed-related charge.

"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," Craig Hughes of MPI's Border Clearance and Services Unit said. "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."