Joint media release: Port Augusta's fruit fly facility boosting the fight against fruit fly

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator the Hon Murray Watt
South Australian Minister for Primary Industries, Regional Development and Forest Industries, Clare Scriven MLC

The fight against fruit fly is set to be boosted with the opening of the $3 million expansion of the world leading National Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) facility at Port Augusta.

The upgrade will grow the current centre, which originally opened in November 2016, helping to drive down fruit fly numbers in South Australia.

Funded under the Federal Government’s $30 million Building Resilience to Manage Fruit Fly package, with additional contributions from PIRSA and Citrus SA, the expansion will enable a doubling of the number of sterile Queensland fruit flies (Q-fly) produced at the facility from 20 to 40 million a week.

Most of the flies reared at Port Augusta will be sent for release in South Australia’s Riverland as part of the response to the current outbreaks in the region.

The program reduces the fruit fly population by mating the sterile flies with wild flies, resulting in no fertile offspring.

In addition to its key role in the Riverland outbreak response, the expanded facility could also provide flies to support other key Australian horticulture areas combatting Q-fly.

Fruit flies are the world’s worst horticultural pest, destroying fruit and vegetables in commercial crops, home gardens and impacting on trade access. In Australia, Q-fly is one of two major species that impacts fruit and vegetable crops, the other being Mediterranean or Medfly.

For more information on the National SIT Facility and SIT operations visit

Quotes attributable to Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Murray Watt:

“Strengthening our biosecurity protections is one of the Albanese Government’s key priorities for our agriculture sector.

“That’s why we continue to support the ongoing efforts of the Malinauskas Government in its battle to eradicate Q-fly from the Riverland.

“Current forecasts from ABARES indicate that Australia is set to produce $18.2 billion of horticulture this year, and roughly half of it is susceptible to fruit fly.

“That’s why projects funded under the Building Resilience to Manage Fruit Fly package, such as this new expanded facility at Port Augusta, are so important in supporting the sector to strengthen their resilience against the pest and assist in getting product to market.

“Helping protect the horticulture sector from fruit fly impacts reduces costs throughout the supply chain from growers right through to the supermarket shelf.

“This expansion is also of national significance, supporting the important role South Australia plays in the ongoing fight to prevent the spread of Q-fly nationally. Having more sterile flies available offers a long-term, sustainable management solution in managing this pest.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Clare Scriven:

“Since the original facility opened here in Port Augusta seven years ago, South Australia has been at the forefront in Australian research into sterile insect technology for Q-fly, with this national facility playing a vital role in that work.

“Understanding the importance of the sterile insect operation to the outbreak response in the Riverland is why this expansion work to the Q-fly facility was undertaken as a priority and I am excited that the forthcoming SIT operations in the region will be able to take advantage of this boost in fly production.

“The South Australian Government is committed to retaining South Australia’s fruit fly free status and is using every tool at its disposal to eradicate the current outbreaks we are experiencing in the Riverland and to protect our vital $1.45 billion horticulture industry at risk from fruit fly.

“It is why the State Government welcomes the generous $20 million in support from the Australian Government’s Building Resilience to Manage Fruit Fly package which doesn’t only include the expansion of the SIT Facility, but initiatives such as maintaining national sterile Medfly capacity, the national rollout of electronic Plant Health Assurance Certification and additional random roadblocks to protect the Riverland Pest Free Area.”

Quotes attributable to Mark Doecke, Chair Citrus SA

“Since the opening of the original facility in Port Augusta in 2016, the use of SIT in subsequent Q-fly responses has played a crucial role in managing fruit fly outbreaks within South Australia.

“This doubling of capacity will not only help to eradicate fruit fly within the Riverland but will also help in ensuring South Australian to keep its all-important fruit fly free status, contributing significantly towards retaining market confidence in our premium produce.

“Citrus SA looks forward to continue to work with PIRSA in maximizing the use of this cutting-edge SIT resource.”