Greater use of analytics and intelligence and more collaboration is needed to protect Australia from unwanted pests and diseases. These were key points from last week’s SA Biosecurity Roundtable.

Each year, the National Biosecurity Committee presents a series of state biosecurity roundtables, followed by a National Biosecurity Forum. Held on 11 April, the SA roundtable brought together representatives from grapes, grains, oysters, pears, citrus and livestock, including Inca Pearce from Vinehealth Australia. The meeting was co-hosted by Biosecurity SA and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR).

Matthew Koval from DAWR presented up to date statistics about increases in biosecurity risks. He said Australia’s biosecurity system is working well but is under increased pressure due to increased volume of people, cargo and mail arriving on Australia’s shores. For example, in the past year:

  • 158 million international mail articles arrived.
  • 840,000 international passengers arrived at seaports.
  • 8 million cargo containers arrived.
  • 41 million air cargo consignments arrived.
  • 5 million international passengers arrived at airports.

Given this heightened pressure, actions required to protect Australia from unwanted pests and diseases include:

  • Greater use of analytics and intelligence.
  • Greater agility in risk analysis.
  • Coordinated focus on research, development and extension.
  • Better integration of environmental and agricultural risk management.
  • Greater awareness in the general community.
  • Embracing new technology and innovation.

At the state level, Will Zacharin, Executive Director of Biosecurity SA, updated the participants about fruit fly programs and other pests and diseases currently being managed in the state including Khapra beetle, Grapevine Pinot Gris virus and Giant Pine Scale, as well as Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs and Red Imported Fire Ants on a national scale.

Speakers from oyster, potato and livestock industries reinforced the need for industry to work more closely with government agencies such as Biosecurity SA.

The impacts of biosecurity incursions were starkly outlined by Trudy McGowan from SA Oyster Growers and Robbie Davis from Potatoes SA who spoke about recent experiences of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) in Tasmania and SA, and Tomato Potato Psyllid in Western Australia.

“To hear from other industries about the devastating impacts of a biosecurity incursion is another reminder that we must not be complacent,” said Inca. “Industry and government must continue working collectively to ensure that new pests and diseases are prevented from entering our vineyards. The health of vines must be the focus.”

Once debriefs have been held for incursions of POMS and Tomato Potato Psyllid, Vinehealth Australia will seek to incorporate any learnings into the wine industry’s response plan for phylloxera.

Susie Green, CEO of Apple & Pear Growers Association of SA Inc, Grant Dalwood, Chief Executive of Nursery & Garden Industry SA Inc, John Virtue, General Manager of Strategy, Policy & Invasive Species at Biosecurity SA and Carol Sheridan, Assistant Secretary of Animal Biosecurity at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.