Stink bug season kick-starts new biosecurity barrier

Heightened biosecurity measures have been put in place at our ports and offshore as 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 measures applied earlier this year were successful and similar requirements would be in place again for the next risk season. The measures will affect high risk cargo, including vehicles, vessels and machinery, shipped from the USA between September 2015 and 30 April 2016.  The bugs emit a foul stench when disturbed and have a habit of seeking shelter in large numbers in houses, factories and machinery over winter.

"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. He added that 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. "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.

It is important for importers, their U.S. suppliers and freight forwarders to remain alert to the potential risks. 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.

 (Source: 2015/108)