The Quarantine Regulators Meeting (QRM), established in 2008, is an annual forum which aims to connect government agencies responsible for, or involved in, biosecurity and border management.
Participation in the meeting is open to all biosecurity agencies and previous QRMs have involved representatives from more than 20 countries from across South-East Asia, South Asia, the Americas and the Pacific. The focus of the meetings is to support a harmonised approach to biosecurity border management, trade facilitation and capacity building.
The purpose of the QRM is to:
- encourage international cooperation on biosecurity issues pertaining to cargo
- promote economic diplomacy by identifying programs which facilitate trade, while addressing biosecurity risks
- reinforce shared development goals
- develop and harmonise cargo compliance processes
- provide members with an opportunity to network with many of their international biosecurity counterparts.
The 2017 QRM will be co-hosted by the Laotian Department of Agriculture and the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. It will be held in Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, from 10 to 12 May. This year’s theme is
Emerging Challenges and Opportunities for Biosecurity Compliance.
QRM 2016 – Melbourne, Australia
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, 2016
This communique serves as a written record of the discussions and outcomes from the Quarantine Regulators Meeting.
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The 2016 Quarantine Regulators Meeting Communique
'Harmonising Regulatory Practices to Encourage Biosecurity Compliance' was the theme of the eighth Quarantine Regulators Meeting (QRM), held in Melbourne, from 18 to 20 May 2016.
Attended by 40 delegates representing 26 international biosecurity agencies, the 2016 QRM was a resounding success. The meeting was officially opened by Dr Robyn Cleland, Assistant Secretary (Compliance Arrangements), Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, with the keynote address provided by Lyn O'Connell, Deputy Secretary, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. The keynote address outlined the importance of international collaboration in managing biosecurity risks and Australia's approach to biosecurity compliance.
The 2016 QRM had a full and interesting agenda, with presentations on several topics, including the Malaysian Department of Agriculture's experience in harmonising fumigation standards in-country; and the Indonesian Agricultural Quarantine Agency's and Sri Lankan Department of Agriculture's work with their respective industries, to encourage better compliance. New Zealand's Ministry for Primary Industries presented on the very real threat of marine biofouling, while the Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis exposed delegates to the importance of data in managing pathway risk.
In recognition of the growth and direction of the QRM, delegates discussed the goals (mission, vision and values) of the meeting and proposed the development of a work plan, to assist in achieving the meeting's objectives. Delegates were also provided with a live demonstration of the network sites for the QRM and the International Cargo Cooperative Biosecurity Arrangement (ICCBA), which will undoubtedly make information sharing easier, into the future.
To conclude a productive three days, the 2016 QRM included the third meeting of the ICCBA Steering Committee, which endorsed the ICCBA Methyl Bromide Methodology, Guide to Performing QPS Fumigations with Methyl Bromide and the development of the Methyl Bromide Schedule to be introduced under ICCBA.
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources would like to thank the 2016 QRM delegates for their support and invaluable contribution to this year's meeting, and encourages the ongoing collaboration between all participating agencies.
The 2016 Quarantine Regulators Meeting was preceded by a workshop for the Government Partnerships for Development (GPFD) project, sponsored by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. GPFD counterparts discussed the next phase of the project, which will focus on the development and delivery of training courses to address in-country technical and administrative requirements pertaining to the application of biosecurity treatments. To support this phase, GPFD counterparts workshopped their in-country training requirements with an intent to identify similarities in training needs and a harmonised approach to training delivery.
Ants, spiders, possums and kangaroos, were some of the insects and animals that delegates saw on their guided tour of the La Trobe Wildlife Sanctuary, which also showcased some of Australia's native flora. The tour provided delegates with information on La Trobe University’s extensive program to eradicate exotic plants and re-establish indigenous species of plants.
The department's state-of-the-art Post Entry Quarantine facility (which opened in October 2015) was also visited. During the visit, delegates were provided with a presentation on the facility, its features and daily operations and were taken on a guided tour.
Meetings of the four International Cargo Cooperative Biosecurity Arrangement (ICCBA) technical working groups were held in conjunction with the QRM. The main outcomes were the finalisation of the Methyl Bromide Methodology and supporting Guide and the agreement to conduct operational trials to evaluate the Heat Treatment Methodology and the Post Treatment Storage Protocol. A technical working group, formalised by the ICCBA Steering Committee at the 2016 QRM for the development of the Methyl Bromide Schedule, will be considering and drafting the terms of the document within the coming months.
QRM 2015 – Pattaya, Thailand
The 2015 Quarantine Regulators Meeting Communique
The seventh Quarantine Regulators Meeting (QRM) was held in conjunction with the second International Cargo Cooperative Biosecurity Arrangement (ICCBA) Steering Committee meeting, in Pattaya, Thailand from 20 to 22 May 2015.
Co-hosted by the Thai Department of Agriculture and the Australian Department of Agriculture, 65 officials representing 31 agencies from 23 countries participated in the QRM themed ‘Delivering Cooperative Biosecurity Initiatives for Cargo’.
The QRM and associated meetings were funded by the Thai Department of Agriculture and the Australian Department of Agriculture, with additional support provided by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade through the Government Partnerships for Development (GPFD) program.
Preceding the QRM, three ICCBA technical working groups were held to further progress efforts to develop methodologies for methyl bromide treatment, heat treatment and post treatment storage. A workshop was also held with the nine GPFD partner agencies. The work undertaken to date was reviewed and plans for the next stage of the project discussed. GPFD scoping visits will now be scheduled to identify biosecurity treatment systems and processes, with the findings to be collated and discussed at a following workshop in late 2015.
The QRM facilitated the exchange of information and demonstration of successful implementation of biosecurity risk management programs. Guest speakers included representatives from the Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis (CEBRA) and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). Presentations and discussions were held on topics including:
- Motor Vehicle Inspection Program (Thailand)
- Free Trade Zone (Malaysia)
- Response to emerging pest risks on cargo (Australia)
- Used vehicle imports (New Zealand)
- E-certification for treatment certificates (Indonesia)
- Transitional facilities for imported sea containers (New Zealand)
- Methyl bromide management under the Montreal Protocol (UNEP)
- Biosecurity risk analysis seminar (CEBRA)
The QRM included a site visit to the Port of Laem Chabang, Thailand’s largest sea port, where delegates were provided with an overview of the port and a demonstration of the MVIP inspection process. The site visit also provided an opportunity to meet with port and automotive industry representatives.
The ICCBA Steering Committee supported the development of a vision statement in addition to the mission and promotional material was provided to attendees, to assist in raising awareness of the objectives of ICCBA and the benefits to member agencies.
The ICCBA Steering Committee endorsed the establishment of an additional technical working group to develop a schedule to accompany the individual treatment methodologies. The focus of the committee over the next year will be to finalise the three methodologies and schedules currently in development and continue to encourage other Biosecurity agencies to become ICCBA members.
The 2015 QRM demonstrated specific examples where cooperative biosecurity initiatives for cargo have been implemented and this has provided opportunities for other agencies to consider if similar approaches would be relevant in their countries. Great interest was also shown in the role collecting and analysing data can play in understanding and managing biosecurity risks.
It was considered that the QRM was a success and remains an important information sharing forum and opportunity to harness international experiences and knowledge.
Attendees applauded the Thai Department of Agriculture on the effort and support provided in hosting the 2015 QRM.
QRM 2014 – Surabaya, Indonesia
The 2014 Quarantine Regulators Meeting Communique
The first meeting of ICCBA was held in conjunction with the sixth international Quarantine Regulators Meeting (QRM) and the Alternative Treatments Conference.
Co-hosted by the Indonesian Agricultural Quarantine Agency (IAQA) and the Australian Department of Agriculture, the gathering commenced with a two day conference addressing options for alternatives to methyl bromide (a known ozone depleting substance) as a quarantine treatment. Two-hundred attendees representing treatment providers, commercial organisations, research institutions and government regulators exchanged views on future approaches to biosecurity treatments.
In association with the conference, biosecurity officials representing 25 countries participated in the sixth international QRM themed ‘collaborative approaches to managing biosecurity risk’. The conference included celebrating 10 years of cooperation between biosecurity agencies through the Australian Fumigation Accreditation Scheme (AFAS), and the inaugural ICCBA meeting.
ICCBA builds on the successful agency to agency approach taken by the bilateral AFAS.
ICCBA, endorsed in June 2013 now has seven member agencies:
- The International Regional Organisation for Plant and Animal Health (OIRSA – representing Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic)
- Department of Agriculture - Australia
- Biosecurity Authority of Fiji – Fiji Islands
- National Agrarian Health Service – Peru
- Bureau of Plant Industry – the Philippines
- Department of Agriculture – Malaysia
- National Agricultural Quarantine Inspection Authority – Papua New Guinea
The delegates discussed a number of important issues:
- AFAS and methyl bromide – ten years on
- Methyl bromide and the Montreal Protocol
- Improved use of methyl bromide
- Alternatives to methyl bromide
- Steps for adoption of alternatives
- Barriers to adoption of alternatives
- Information management and sharing
- Quarantine Compliance
- Biosecurity management and monitoring systems.
The inaugural meeting of the ICCBA Steering Committee heard a report from the ICCBA Secretariat and from each Technical Working Group (Methyl Bromide Technical Working Group, Heat Treatment Technical Working Group and Post Treatment Storage Technical Working Group) outlining the activities that had been undertaken since the 2013 QRM. Included in the work plan for 2014/15 is the development of Schedules for quarantine treatment methodologies and inspection regimes for inclusion under ICCBA.