Stink bugs freeze Japanese car imports to New Zealand

It's not a feature, it's a bug.

There's more to the stink bug than the fact it smells pretty terrible. Especially if you're shipping cars to New Zealand from Japan, and a stink bug infestation throws a spanner in the works.

New Zealand authorities are doing their best to keep invasive foreign species out of the island nation's eccentric eco system, and to protect their farming industry. They have enough bothersome possums and rats, and stink bugs are especially unwelcome in the eyes of Kiwis. The insects reproduce quickly and with their resistance to pesticides, they could devour New Zealand crops.

That brings us back to the cars. Three cargo ships, carrying new and used Japanese cars "of every make and model" were discovered to be full of stink bugs, and it will take a good while to sort it all out. Talking to CNN, David Vinsen, CEO of New Zealand's Imported Motor Vehicle Industry Association, said he had never seen a situation as serious as this. On the cargo ships are more than 10,000 vehicles, which will have to be properly treated before they will be let into the country. Some 8,000 cars are still waiting to be loaded into ships in Japan. Already, 95 percent of imported Japanese vehicles go through approved facilities to weed out any biohazards; in the future, the NZ government will require all used vehicles that come in from Japan to be cleaned and inspected. The same goes for used machinery.

With the importation process ground to a halt and no new stock available, the car industry workforce will see layoffs or cut working hours unless the matter is rectified soon – while personnel cleaning out buggy cars will have their hands full. "People are concerned about their jobs", said Vinsen, "So we need to get this matter resolved as quickly as possible."

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