Pest cargo?

​Alert biosecurity officers at the Sydney Mail Centre intercepted two packages containing 13 live Helix pomatia snails from the Ukraine—commonly known as Roman snails or escargot, and delicious smothered in garlic butter.

Acting head of compliance at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Dr Robyn Cleland, said the bill for an exotic meal like this one could ultimately be footed by the whole nation.

“Courts may impose penalties on individuals of up to 10 years’ imprisonment or a maximum fine of $420,000, or both, under the Biosecurity Act 2015 for importing biosecurity risk material,” Dr Cleland said.

“Of far more concern is the price our national agricultural industries, plants and animals could pay for an exotic pest incursion.

“Australia is free of some of the world’s most devastating pests and diseases, which could decimate our $60 billion agricultural industries and the health of our plants, animals and the environment.

“Snails are capable of producing up to 300 eggs—a pair of exotic snails could present a rapid and very real threat to Australian crops and ecosystems.

“We work offshore, onshore and at the border to ensure that Australia is protected to the highest possible standards.

“And where people are found to have deliberately done the wrong thing, they are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

Helix pomatia originates from Europe, however it has been moved by humans to Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Americas where there is a large international industry dedicated to farming this species for food.

For information about what can and can’t be sent to Australia go to Travelling or sending goods to Australia.

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