More than a hundred crop-threatening black marmorated stink bugs (BMSBs) were found recently on a vessel carrying cars and machinery to Australia, prompting a swift turnback from the country’s biosecurity authorities.
The Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources said if the bugs entered the country they had the potential to “decimate” Australia’s $12 billion (US$8.7 billion) horticultural industry.
The vessel Triumph owned by Armacup had come through multiple ports and will now go back to China.
Australian Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said the country would never compromise on keeping its farm sector safe.
“Australia is extremely lucky to be relatively isolated by sea, which helps us keep pests and diseases out,” Minister Littleproud said.
“We sell our produce for premium prices overseas because it’s clean and green – we have very few pests and diseases.
“If we don’t protect our borders from invading pests and diseases, we could lose our [AUD]$60 billion (US$43 billion) farm industries.”
The detection follows to substantial findings over the last Australian summer – one in Sydney and another in Perth. Authorities have upped the ante since then and strict seasonal measures are in place for the BMSB season for good shipped between Sept. 1 and April 30.
BMSB originates in Asia but has spread to Europe where it wreaking havoc.
“Department of Agriculture inspections found more than a hundred brown marmorated stink bugs and other bugs on the Triumph, which indicates a live population on the boat,” said Minister Littleproud.
“These bugs eat everything from tomatoes to apples and broccoli to beans. They also gather in people’s houses and stink to high heaven.
“The risk to our industry was unacceptable. We directed the vessel to leave our waters, which it now has. I thank the shipping line and operator for openly cooperating with us on the issue.”