Media Release

Halting a snail trail of destruction

7 June 2014

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, congratulated the quick work of industry and biosecurity officers in stopping a number of exotic snails in their trail of potential destruction under the Department of Agriculture's national surveillance programme.

Minister Joyce said the Australian Government works in partnership with other state and territory governments, industry and the community to reduce the risk of exotic pests and diseases and to help control outbreaks and detections as they occurred.

"Many of the biosecurity risks managed at the Australian border could have huge financial consequences for our primary industries, so surveillance is an essential element in preventing the establishment or spread of exotic pests," Minister Joyce said.

"Our work isn't just limited to activities at the border. We work offshore to keep pests away as well as carry out activities on shore to stamp out biosecurity threats."

Originating from the Mediterranean the Eobania vermiculata, or Chocolate Banded snail, recently invaded the main container berth at Adelaide.

Department of Agriculture staff and operational scientists, together with the port operator eradicated the snails. No live snails have since been found during follow-up surveillance activities.

"This species of snail is established in the United States of America and because of its destructive nature to plants and crops presents a serious agricultural biosecurity threat," Minister Joyce said.

"Australia is very fortunate to be free from many pests and diseases found in other parts of the world that have harmed human health, agricultural industries, animals, plants, and the environment.

"Through early detection and effectively responding to detections, we are actually helping to support trade, especially where the market depends on having a 'pest-free status'.

"Taking appropriate biosecurity measures, like working with importers to ensure they meet Australia's biosecurity importing requirements, helps protect Australia's growing agriculture exports which reached over $51 billion in 2012—13.

"Working collaboratively with industry meant the best actions were taken by the department, ensuring the most cost-effective outcome possible for industry."