Australian authorities say there is now an “active population” of Queensland fruit flies on the island state of Tasmania and have expanded the control area further to the east.
Ongoing surveillance activities as part of the fruit fly response have trapped a total of five adult fruit flies as well as larvae in fruit in a George Town backyard orchard, Biosecurity Tasmania general manager Lloyd Klumpp said.
He said that following the detection of a single adult fly last week, the organization immediately implemented an intensive surveillance program, including inspection of fallen fruit and the placement of additional traps around the detection site.
“This monitoring has identified four additional fruit flies and larvae which indicates we have an active population in the vicinity of this site,” he said.
A fruit fly was initially detected on Flinders Island and then in Spreyton on the mainland, which led authorities to set up a control area that was later expanded after an additional detection near the boundary.
The control area has now been expanded to the east to include the northern coastal area to Beechford and Lefroy, Rowella, Sidmouth and to Kimberley in the south.
Klumpp said Biosecurity Tasmania had already begun implementing control measures at the site and would be talking directly to surrounding landholders about the detection, what is being undertaken and how they can assist the work.
“This detection highlights the value of the systems we have in place. Our statewide surveillance program detected a single fruit fly, and based on more intensive surveillance we have been able to identify the site for action,” he said.
“It is critical that we identify any sites where there is possible fruit fly activity so we can target these sites. Further surveillance and inspection is being undertaken as part of this.”
He added authorities were liaising directly with growers in the new control area to keep them informed of the latest information and identify measures to minimize impacts on them.
“We have been speaking directly to Wine Tasmania, Fruit Growers Tasmania and the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association and will also be liaising with other fruit and produce growers within the new Control area. Currently we are also arranging a forum for growers so they can talk directly to the Department,” he said.
“We recognise that the implementation of this new Control Area impacts on both industry and the wider community. However we want to acknowledge the industry and community vigilance and support that has been provided so far and encourage you to continue to work with us as we undertake this work.”
Klumpp said the same host-produce movement restrictions already in place would also apply to the new control area and further information will continue to be provided to all sectors of industry and the community.
He added investigations into the possible source of the detection were ongoing. This includes the possibility of issues in the mainland fruit and vegetable supply chain.
“We are aware that other parts of Australia are currently dealing with a similar situation and so we are working closely with all our national partners to re-inforce our national system,” he said.
“Good biosecurity systems are vital to all States and territories and so there is a cooperative effort to identify if there has been an issue here and if so how it can be addressed.”