Australia: Biosecurity assurance for cut flower and foliage imports

The Australian Department of Agriculture has released a draft consultation report that confirms the enhanced import conditions for fresh cut flowers and foliage that effectively manage the associated biosecurity risks.

The report assessed the three main groups of arthropod pests arriving with these imports—thrips, aphids and mites—and confirms that additional conditions implemented this year better address biosecurity risks before consignments arrive in Australia.

Fresh cut flowers and foliage have been commercially imported for 45 years and Australia’s biosecurity system has continued to ensure any pest and disease risks are managed.

As a result of increased imports and changes in exporting countries, the biosecurity risk profile of imported fresh cut flowers and foliage has changed and the numbers and types of pests associated with these goods have increased.

To address these risks, enhanced import conditions were implemented on 1 March 2018. They include pre-shipment methyl bromide fumigation prior to export, or an alternative pest control treatment or systems approach that is approved by a National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO).

A systems approach requires a number of risk management measures to be applied at different points in the supply chain.

All consignments must also be inspected and certified free from live pests by the NPPO of the exporting country before they are exported. That certification must be declared on a Phytosanitary Certificate issued by the exporting country NPPO, together with confirmation on the treatment that has been applied.

At the Australian border, consignments are inspected by biosecurity officers to verify their pest status. If live quarantine pests are detected, consignments will either be destroyed, exported or undergo a remedial treatment, such as fumigation, to ensure Australia’s appropriate level of protection.

The department continues to work with the NPPO of the exporting countries that have a high rate of pest detections on their consignments, to investigate the causes and put corrective measures in place.

The department has consulted widely with industry, domestic growers and trading partners as part of the draft report and ongoing risk review for imported fresh cut flowers and foliage.

The draft report is available for comment and all interested stakeholders are encouraged to provide feedback by 31 January 2019. The department will consider all scientific information before finalising the report and releasing the final report.

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