Man tries to smuggle fish in his trousers
A man's attempt to smuggle live tropical fish into New Zealand in his trouser pockets floundered when water was spotted dripping from his clothes, officials have said.
The Vietnamese national travelled from Australia to Auckland earlier this week and airport officials suspected something was fishy because liquid was seeping from the bulging pockets of his trousers, the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) said.
The man initially said he was carrying water from the plane because he was thirsty.
However when questioned further and searched, customs officers found seven fish hidden in plastic bags in his pockets.
The passenger told them he was bringing the fish into the country for a friend.
The fish were all unidentified species of cichlid.
MPI spokesman Craig Hughes said the man will face charges under the Biosecurity Act, which carries maximum penalties of five years inájail or a NZ$100,000 (ú50,000) fine.
"This appears to be a deliberate attempt to smuggle fish into the country without any consideration of the biosecurity risk involved," he said in a statement.
"That's something we take very seriously. The fish could have been carrying diseases or have the potential to displace native species."
Australia and New Zealand have some of the strictest rules in the world when it comes to transporting lives animals.
Even if the species of fish was permitted to enter the country it would be required to go through strict quarantine procedures.