Australia: Victorian govt gives up on fruit fly eradication
The Victorian government in Australia has proposed to deregulate controls for fruit fly, which effectively makes it an endemic pest, media agency the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported.
Department of Primary Industries (DPI) plant biosecurity director Russell McMurray, told the ABC there were more than 100 active outbreaks of the pest in Victoria and they had become uncontrollable.
The fruit growing region of Sunraysia will be the only exception to the proposed deregulation, as numbers of the pest are minimal in the area.
McMurray said the deregulation meant growers and traders would no longer have to get plant health certificates or industry certification to be able to move produce across Australia’s east coast.
“Whilst you could hypothetically say eradication is potentially possible in Victoria if you threw AUD$21 million (US$21.9 million) per year for the next three years, the reality is the fruit fly is largely increased in New South Wales and we’ll be facing that year in, year out,” he told the broadcaster.
“We’ve certainly been putting out suppression blocks and undertaking activities in those [affected] areas – when you have to look at the economic benefit, we have to turn around and say are we making good value of Australia’s and Victoria’s dollar in doing that work, because there are a lot of other exotic pests and diseases that potentially could come through into Victoria, that we are devoting resources into those areas.”
He said the outbreaks meant growers were already facing export issues.
“It is a concern that we’re working through with the Commonwealth in that area to work out the protocols and the treatment options.
“Similarly, what also happens is the more controls we put on it in a domestic situation, the more controls international people are likely to put on our produce as well, so it can actually have the opposite effect.”
Fruit Growers Victoria general manager John Wilson told the ABC he agreed the measures could be good for reducing paperwork in affected areas, but it would mean more work in areas that don’t have outbreaks in the Goulburn Valley, Gippsland and the Yarra Valley.
“Anybody who’s doing paperwork now for eastern seaboard movements will be removed of that burden and that’s a good thing for fruit growers; there’s too much red tape for fruit growers across Australia anyway,” he told the broadcaster.
“The area that really concerns us is exports, and this is where I differ from Mr McMurray quite significantly.”
Photo: DPI Victoria