Biosecurity ramped up

A FURTHER layer of protection against Foot and Mouth Disease has been laid down at Tasmanian ports with the installation of foot sanitation mats this week.

The mats will be used by travellers returning from Indonesia to provide a further layer of protection to mitigate any intrusions of the disease into the state. The mats are the latest in the government’s efforts to ramp up protection at borders. This has so far included more biosecurity officers, upgrades to x-ray machinery at mail processing centres and increased signage at arrival and exit ports. The TFGA has also been engaged to promote on-farm biosecurity practices.

Primary Industries Minister Jo Palmer said it was important to wrap “another layer” of protection around Tasmania on top of the federal biosecurity measures. “It is another way that we can reiterate to our farmers that we are standing by them and to ensure that biosecurity threats are treated in the right manner,” Ms Palmer said.

“We just can’t have them in our state. “While the risk is low the consequences have the potential to devastate our agricultural industry” “Our first line of defence is the federal border protection where Tasmania has worked really closely to be part of the national strategy to make sure that first line of defence is as strong as it can be.”

The footmats will be located at every point-of-entry into Tasmania, including on King and Flinders Island. There are significant penalties associated with attempting to work around biosecurity direction. Under the general biosecurity duty, if someone knowingly and deliberately attempts to circumvent the biosecurity requirements they can face fines up to $450,000. Meanwhile, a new national biosecurity strategy was released this week with the aim of combating the increasing pest and disease threats at Australian borders.

Agriculture Minister Senator Murray Watt announced said the strategy was Australia’s first national biosecurity plan and aimed to ensure different states and governments worked with industry alongside one another. The strategy outlines six priority areas needed to evolve the biosecurity system within Australia. Shared biosecurity culture will enhance the importance of biosecurity action. A highly skilled workforce will be developed and sustained to ensure capabilities to manage any outbreaks are met. Sustainable investment ensures funding is sufficient, co-funded, transparent and sustainable for the long term.

Australia stands to lose about $5 billion in control measures and lost production for weeds, $1.3 billion in pollen-dependant crops over 30 years in the event of a varroa mite incursion and around $50 billion over 10 years in the event of a FMD outbreak.