A ship loaded with palm kernel estimated to be US $ 6 million has been detained at the Port of Tauranga, New Zealand while the port officials are trying to verify the origin of the ship’s cargo. The carrier named ‘Molat’ with 23,000 tonnes of palm kernel onboard is currently anchored in Roadstead is blocked entry to the port by the Ministry of Primary Industries. The cargo vessel has been anchored off the Mount Maunganui coast since September 6.
The MPI is negotiating with the importer and it has taken nearly a month because of the sizeable amount of cargo. MPI has refused to disclose the identity of the importer and PKE importers Fonterra and Swaps have denied the shipment claims and another Mount Maunganui based feeder could not be reached for comments.
Steve Gilbert, MPI border clearance services director said, “Palm kernel processing mills in Malaysia need to be registered to ensure their product meets the required export standard for New Zealand”. Steve further stated, “The importer would obviously like to discharge the cargo, which is understandable, we are open to that and we are working with them around under what basis we can allow that cargo to be discharged”.
Steve further expressed that the ship does not pose any biosecurity threat and is currently secured in the container vessel. Unless the risk can be managed by the importer it will not be allowed to enter the port. The importer has been given the option to treat the risk, destroy it or re-ship the cargo. He assured that a solution will be reached shortly of the cargo’s fate.
Why is PKE shipment denied entry to the port?
New Zealand is the world’s major distributor of palm kernel extract, which is used as cattle feed. Palm kernel extract (PKE) is deemed to be controversial consignment because of the destruction of tropical rain forest to make room for the palm oil plantations on the Borneo and Sumatra Islands. The rainforest authorizations are criticized heavily by the International community because of loss of habitat for Orang-utans and Sumatran Tigers.
Greenpeace senior campaign advisor Grant Rosoman says the situation shows there is a lack of knowledge around the supply chain for palm kernel (PKE). “It could come from anywhere. There’s no guarantee where it’s come from and it’s likely it’s got deforestation related to it”.
The ship was reported to have been in North Sumatra on April 5 before embarking on a journey to the port in Malaysia and the consignment could be linked to “highly controversial” palm oil plantations in North Sumatra which is deemed as a haven for Orang-utans.
Grant expressed that, “It’s likely to have come from some sources that are linked to deforestation in Sumatra and we are asking all of the importers of PKE to commit to no deforestation, no peat land and no exploitation of resources [policy]. The shipments carry a number of risks, one is biosecurity and another is deforestation and things like that so it’s good all round to have had this [ship] stopped”.
Statistics New Zealand figures show PKE imports spiked in the year to June 2015 at 1.94 million tonnes before dropping to 1.86m/t in the year to June 2016.
The MPI has revised its import rules in June 2013 necessitating PKE only to be imported from facilities approved and regularly audited in exporting countries. To date, the MPI said it had not had to stop any other PKE shipments for failing to meet this requirement.
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