bug season snaps biosecurity barriers into place
1 September 2015
Heightened biosecurity measures will be in place at our ports and offshore from 1 September 2015, to protect Australia's agriculture sector from the potentially devastating exotic brown marmorated stink bug.
Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said the measures applied in early 2015 to manage the risk these bugs posed were successful and similar requirements would be in place again for the next risk season.
"International shipping vessels have been identified as the primary pathway into Australia for this pest, and some of the measures include heat and chemical treatments of incoming goods offshore, and increased inspections and surveillance at our seaports," Minister Joyce said.
"This season's measures are based on our improved understanding of the pest's behaviour and industry feedback from last season.
"This underlines the flexibility and responsiveness of Australia's biosecurity system—our arrangements are adaptable and scalable so that when the risk increases, as it can seasonally, so does our level of intervention.
"When biosecurity officers detected an increase in stink bugs on vessels and machinery coming out of the United States in December last year, we increased our rates of inspection and later introduced pre-departure treatment measures.
"Now we have more data from our earlier efforts, we're able to be better prepared. We know the times of year with greater risk, effective treatment conditions and we're able to scale our level of intervention to when and where we need it most.
"With the next stink bug season fast approaching we're reintroducing offshore pre-shipment treatments and increased surveillance at ports—and it's a good example of the system working."
Minister Joyce said the efforts of importers, shipping lines, brokers and the ports were key to making sure this pest doesn't establish on Australian shores.
"It's important to understand how damaging this pest can be—it affects about 300 different plant species and could seriously harm our $9.23 billion horticulture sector," Minister Joyce said.
"They also emit a foul stench when disturbed and given their habit of seeking shelter in large numbers in houses, factories and machinery over winter—it's not a pest we want in Australia.
"The efforts of industry were absolutely critical in managing the risk of brown marmorated stink bug last time detections increased, and we need their help again.
"There are costs involved in managing risks, but they pale into insignificance compared with the cost to our agricultural industries, environment and backyards if this or other exotic pests and diseases established in this country.
"Keeping Australia free of exotic pests and diseases is a big job and it is a partnership—we rely on industry and the public doing the right thing, and working with us to keep exotic pests and diseases out."
The Department of Agriculture encourages members of the community, including those who work at or near our ports, to report suspected sightings of brown marmorated stink bugs to the See-Secure-Report hotline on 1800 798 636.
The measures will affect high risk cargo, including vehicles, vessels and machinery, shipped from the United States between September and 30 April 2016. For more information on stink bug seasonal measures, visit: www.agriculture.gov.au/import/industry-advice/ian/15/68-2015.