Sales and supply of new and used Japanese trucks likely to be affected by stink bug infestation on ships

4 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineFebruary 16, 2018

National supplies of new and used Japanese trucks are likely to be affected following the discovery of infestations of brown marmorated stink bugs in at least five ships bound for New Zealand.

Carr & Haslam director Chris Carr says while he cannot give details, there were definitely Japanese brands like Isuzu, Hino, Fuso and Nissan on the affected ships, which could contain as many as 5000 vehicles.

“I haven‘t got a breakdown of the trucks on them but it is fair to assume there will be a number of Japanese trucks, both new and used, on board. It‘s a problem for the motor industry and will have flow-on effects for some time.”

He says about 15 PCCs (pure car carriers) enter New Zealand waters from Japan every month, so any disruption would quickly affect vehicle supplies and sales figures.

“The issue is they haven‘t solved the problem yet. Mitsui‘s Courageous Ace was the first to be turned away in early February. Another four have come and left, and there‘s one ship in port now that has been inspected but the results are not through yet.

“It is going to be a big job to get rid of the bugs. You need to poison them and that means nobody can be on board.”

Carr says MPI have done a fantastic job of turning the ships around before the bugs were allowed to get into New Zealand.

“MPI have been warning us about these bugs for years. It‘s certainly the biggest potential risk they have dealt with. Someone found traces, and they were concerned enough to shut the ship and start fogging it. The fogging process isn‘t poisonous, it is an irritant that flushes the bugs out.”

Carr says the problem is there is no commonality with the infestations.

“The bugs have come from different departure ports, on different vessels that originated from other ports – some haven‘t gone to the same places as others, some ships have been cleaned, some haven‘t – we have tried to find common factors but the only one is that the bugs have originated in Japan.

“The weather in Japan is cold at this time of the year and the bugs have hidden in the cargo and waited to come out when it‘s warmer. They look for somewhere warm to hibernate and vehicle exhausts and engine cavities are where they hide.

“It‘s an Asian sourced beetle that has spread to the United States and also Italy, where it is advancing north. We‘re now getting vehicles coming out of Italy that have to be inspected. MPI is doing everything they can to stop it arriving in New Zealand because it has no natural predators, it breeds well and it eats everything. It could have a devastating effect on the agricultural industry.”