In April 2019, the New Zealand Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) began considering an application to reassess the proposed recapture requirements (the controls) for Methyl Bromide that were originally due to come into force in 2021.
Following industry and public feedback over the 2019 to 2021 period, the EPA has now announced a modified set of recapture requirements that will come into force on 1 January 2023.
Methyl Bromide (MB) is a highly toxic colourless and odourless gas, which is used as a fumigant. MB is an Ozone Depleting Agent, which are internationally regulated by the Montreal Protocol. MB use was regulated internationally after the signing of the London Amendment to the Montreal Protocol in 1990. The London Amendment mandated that countries reduce MB use to zero by 2005, with the exception of the use for Quarantine and Phytosanitary Requirements (QPS), where acceptable fumigation replacements do not exist. No other usage of MB has been permitted in New Zealand since 2005 under this amendment.
The majority of products fumigated with MB within New Zealand are wood products destined for China and India. However, both imported and exported produce can also require MB treatment as part of phytosanitary requirements, which are regulated by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) or the importing countries. As such, any change to the fumigation Controls for MB has the potential to affect the New Zealand produce industry’s ability to import or export produce.
On 11 August 2021, the EPA released their decision on the use and recapture of MB for phytosanitary purposes.
The changes relevant to the produce industry that will come into force 1 January 2023 are these:
Impact on the Produce Industry
These changes will impact the ability of the produce industry to both export and import produce. The situations in which MB fumigation are required have not changed, and neither has the overall dosages, so the produce industry will still be required to use MB to the same level as without these controls.
What will change are two aspects: