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A Vietnamese man was caught trying to smuggle live tropical fish into New Zealand after customs officers noticed water dripping down his legs, authorities said on Friday.
Officials asked to see the contents of his bulging pockets after noticing water dripping through the fabric of his cargo pants when he arrived at Auckland airport this week from Australia, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said.
He initially said he was carrying drinking water from the plane, but then produced two plastic bags containing water and seven live fish, which he said he was bringing in for a friend.
MPI's local passenger manager Craig Hughes said the man would face charges under New Zealand's Biosecurity Act.
“This appears to be a deliberate attempt to smuggle fish into the country without any consideration of the biosecurity risk involved.
“The fish could have been carrying diseases or have the potential to displace native species.”
Even if the fish were allowed into the country, they would “still need to go through strict quarantine procedures,” he said.
The fish have been identified as cichlids. - Sapa-dpa