Brisbane passengers slip on biosecurity

​​​Australian biosecurity officers seized more than 33,000 items from global travellers arriving at Brisbane international airport in 2016, a rise of 2 per cent on 2015 figures.

Head of biosecurity operations at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Nico Padovan, said that every seized item posed a risk to Australia's way of life.

"It's great to see that the overall trend in the number of biosecurity risk items seized is relatively steady in Brisbane—particularly given the 3.8 per cent rise in international arrivals during 2015-16," Mr Padovan said.

"But we need seizure numbers to fall even further if we're to safeguard our community, environment, agricultural industries and economy.

"In 2016, Brisbane saw a 20 per cent rise in the number of bananas arriving with travellers, to 1,500—a direct threat to Queensland's largest horticultural industry.

"There are currently no commercial imports of bananas into Australia simply because the risk of pests and diseases is too great. 

"So when passengers fail to declare something as simple (and as dangerous) as a banana, they put whole industries in jeopardy.

"The strict controls are in place for a reason.  They are critical to protecting not only our human health, but also our agricultural industries, environment and economy.

"All passengers entering Australia need to think about the risk they're posing to Australia when they pack their bags.

"My advice is leave it behind – most delicacies, such as meat, seafood and fruit are available for sale in Australia. If served food on the aircraft, leave it on the aircraft—or potentially face an on-the-spot fine of $360."

Items seized at the Brisbane Airport in 2016 included:

  • 689 egg products, a 34 per cent rise on 2015 detections
  • 406 seafood products, a 15 per cent rise on 2015 detections
  • 1,584 bananas, a rise of 18 per cent on 2015 detections
  • 7105 plant and plant products—steady on 2015 detections
  • 2,130 items of contaminated footwear, goods or packaging, a fall of 4 per cent on 2015 detections
  • 446 nut products, a fall of 17 per cent on 2015 detections

 "Brisbane isn't the only airport to have increased seizures in 2016. We seized 273,000 items of biosecurity concern across Australia's international airports in 2016, up by more than 6 per cent from 2015," Mr Padovan said.

"Biosecurity officers are using the best science, analysis and intelligence available and actively target deliberate concealment and non-compliance with Australia's biosecurity laws.

"The onus is on people to do the right thing—think about what is being packed and if unsure check agriculture.gov.au, fill out the Incoming Passenger Cards correctly, declare everything honestly and leave plane food on the plane, especially fruit."

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