Moving Torres Strait quarantine material

​​​The islands of the Torres Strait provide a potential route to mainland Australia for many serious quarantine pests present in countries to our north. The Torres Strait island group is Australia’s closest point to a neighbouring country. A distance of only 3.6 kms separates the outer Torres Strait island of Saibai and the mainland of Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Some exotic pests make seasonal incursions into Torres Strait. Others move into the island chain by natural means, such as wind or tide movements. Torres Strait proves no barrier to migrating birds or flying insects, such as mosquitoes, that can carry diseases.

Traditional trade between the 13 PNG treaty villages and the outer Torres Strait islands, or the movement of vessels, cargo and people within the Torres Strait has the capacity to inadvertently move pests, diseases and weeds. 

Map of the Torres Strait quarantine zones
Map of Torres Strait protected and special quarantine zones

For these reasons the Torres Strait has special quarantine requirements that prohibit the southward movement of the following products south between

  • the Torres Strait Protected Zone to the Special Quarantine Zone, and
  • any Torres Strait island to mainland Australia

without a permit from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

  • untreated hides or skins or other animal products
  • meat or dairy products (excluding canned items)
  • fresh fruit and vegetables
  • live animals, including insects
  • live plants, including cuttings, seedlings or plant products
  • poultry products, including eggs or feathers with skin still attached, and
  • soil

NAQS symbols 

Australia's quarantine laws are designed to manage the risk of exotic pests, weeds and diseases entering the Torres Strait, or spreading from the Strait to mainland Australia.

Moving cargo, machinery and vehicles from the Torres Strait Protected Zone or Special Quarantine Zone

If you are moving cargo, machinery or vehicles south from the Torres Strait protected Zone into the Special Quarantine Zone, or from either zone to mainland Australia, please ensure the following:

  • Ensure your cargo, machinery or vehicle is free from soil or any plant or animal material
  • Remove potential water reservoirs, including buckets and other containers – these can provide a potential breeding site for exotic mosquitoes than can carry disease, and
  • Arrange for a department officer to inspect your cargo, machinery or vehicle before it leaves the island.

Moving restricted items from the Torres Strait Protected Zone or Special Quarantine Zone

Start with the flow chart below to see what you need to do if you want to move one or more of these restricted items.

Once you've identified what you need to do please check the text below the flow chart for further details.

For more information on the requirements for yachts and vessels over seven metres moving through the Torres Strait please go to Shipping and yachting in the Torres Strait.

Moving Torres Strait quarantine material 

What do you want to move?

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Live animals (cats and dogs only)

Cats and dogs require a permit to move between the TSPZ to the SQZ and from either of these zones to mainland Australia.

The owner of the cat or dog

  • must complete and submit a permit application to move animals 3 days prior to departure
  • must arrange a time for the dog/cat to be inspected by a department officer on the island of departure within three working days of the intended movement of the animal. At the time of inspection the owner must provide details of the animals origin and health
  • Application for permit to move animals from the Torres Strait pdf.gif PDF [100 KB]

Live animals (vertebrates, excluding cats and dogs)

All live animals, except live fish, require a permit to move between the TSPZ to the SQZ and from either of these zones to mainland Australia.

The owner of an animal other than a cat or dog (e.g. birds, reptiles, guinea pigs), should

Live fish (excluding those from PNG)

Live fish do not require a movement permit but, prior to movement, both the fish and any packaging must be inspected by a department officer for quarantine risk material (e.g. plant material).

Note: this does not apply to live fish from PNG. For live fish from PNG (refer to BICON).

Live insects (specimens and products)

The southward movement of live insects (including viable insect products) from the TSPZ to the SQZ or from either of these zones to mainland Australia is restricted (i.e. prohibited without a permit). A Permit to move quarantine material may be issued on a case by case basis if the quarantine risk(s) can be appropriately mitigated.

The Application for permit to move quarantine material (plant-animal-soil products) from the Torres Strait must be completed and lodged at least 28 days prior to departure.

Dead animals (animal products and specimens)

The southward movement of all animals and animal products, other than seafood, from the TSPZ to the SQZ or from either of these zones to mainland Australia is restricted (i.e. prohibited without a permit). This restriction also applies to scientific specimens and any material of animal origin. Traditional movements of turtle and dugong from Torres Strait are permitted.

The Application for permit to move quarantine material (plant-animal-soil products) from the Torres Strait must be completed and lodged at least 28 days prior to departure.

Dead insects (specimens and products)

Dead insects and non-viable insect products do not require a movement permit but, prior to movement, both the insects and any packaging associated with them must be inspected by a department officer to ensure that the specimens are dead and free of other quarantine risk material (e.g. plant material).

Dead bees (specimens, pollen and honey)

Dead bees of the genus Apis do not require a movement permit if preserved in 70 per cent ethanol, 10 per cent formalin or a minimum of 2 per cent gluteraldehyde. Prior to movement, both the bees and any packaging associated with them must be inspected by a department officer to ensure that the specimens are dead, preserved appropriately and free of other quarantine risk material (e.g. plant material).

Live plants and plant material

The southward movement of plant material from the TSPZ to the SQZ or from either of these zones to mainland Australia is restricted (i.e. prohibited without a permit). Permits will be issued on a case by case basis if the quarantine risk(s) can be appropriately mitigated.

The Application for permit to move quarantine material (plant-animal-soil products) from the Torres Strait must be completed and lodged at least 28 days prior to departure.

Dead plants (plant products and herbarium specimens)

The southward movement of dead plants and herbarium material from the TSPZ to the SQZ or from either of these zones to mainland Australia requires a permit and, where possible, treatment in Torres Strait prior to movement.

The Application for permit to move quarantine material (plant-animal-soil products) from the Torres Strait must be completed and lodged at least 28 days prior to departure.

Soil samples

The removal of soil from the TSPZ to the SQZ or from either of those zones to mainland Australia is restricted (i.e. prohibited without a permit). Soil samples that have been granted a permit can only be moved to a Torres Strait quarantine approved premise e.g. soil laboratory.

All approved permits for soil samples remain valid for 12 months from the date of issue.

Permit applications will be accepted by email or hard copy.

To submit a permit application, or if you have any questions please contact your local island department officer or one of our offices listed below.

OfficeEmailPhone
BamagaNAQS07 4069 3142
CairnsNAQS07 4241 7800
Horn Island, Torres StraitNAQS07 4069 1310
Thursday Island, Torres StraitNAQS07 4212 0185
Last reviewed:
03 Feb 2016