Australia is building stronger offshore biosecurity measures, with surveys now underway with Papua New Guinea (PNG) to better manage the risk of pests and diseases arriving from close-neighbouring countries.
Head of Biosecurity Operations at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Nico Padovan, said the surveys were a key part of the department’s work with neighbouring countries to improve biosecurity surveillance and analysis.
“PNG is in close proximity to the top end of Australia, so it is in the interest of both PNG and Australia to find and manage biosecurity pests and diseases,” Mr Padovan said.
“We work with our near neighbours to establish an ‘early warning’ mechanism for our priority plant pests and diseases, as well as those that could specifically affect crops in nearby northern Australia.
“This work also involves surveillance for exotic animal diseases that pose a significant threat to Australia and PNG, such as foot and-mouth disease (FMD) and rabies.
“Community engagement is critical to the success of managing biosecurity risks and these joint surveys rely on information provided by locals to detect and report changes in the region’s animal or plant health status.”
The surveys will run from 18 February to 2 March and will be the first major plant and animal health survey of coastal eastern treaty villages in PNG in more than 17 years.
Exotic and unwanted plant pests and diseases, such as exotic fruit flies, Panama Disease and Citrus Greening Disease pose a significant threat to agriculture industries, plant health and environment. Animal diseases, such as avian influenza, classical swine fever and rabies are also a significant risk.
“Working with neighbouring countries to improve biosecurity surveillance and analysis will support both countries to better manage the risk of these and other pests and diseases,” Mr Padovan said.
The surveys will be conducted by a team of staff from the department’s Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy (NAQS) and Papua New Guinea’s National Agriculture Quarantine and Inspection Authority (NAQIA).
They are funded through the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper (ACWP)—with building a strong and sustainable regional surveillance system a key deliverable from the ACWP investment.
For more information on the department’s work to improve Australia’s biosecurity surveillance and analysis.
Photos available upon request.