Quarantine Regulators Meeting

​​​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, share ideas and discuss future visions with many of their international biosecurity counterparts.

The 2018 QRM was held in Bali, Indonesia from 9-11 May. The meeting was co-hosted by the Indonesian Agricultural Quarantine Agency and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. The meeting was attended by 52 delegates, representing 29 countries. Representatives from the Standards and Trade Development Facility and the World Bank were also in attendance.

The next QRM will be held in Panama City, Panama in April, 2019. The meeting will be co-hosted by the International Regional Organisation for Plant and Animal Health – (OIRSA) and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

Past communiques

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QRM 2018 – Bali, Indonesia

Publication details

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, 2018

This communique serves as a written record of the discussions and outcomes from the Quarantine Regulators Meeting.

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The 2018 Quarantine Regulators Meeting Communique

The 2018 Quarantine Regulators Meeting (QRM) was held in Bali, Indonesia, from 9 to 11 May 2018. Following discussions at the 2017 QRM in Lao PDR, it was decided that the theme of the 2018 meeting would be developed to encompass a three year forward plan, with a focus on achieving tangible outcomes as well as continuing to build on the success of the collaborative nature of the forum. The theme for the 2018-2020 QRMs is ‘Advancing biosecurity systems through a success-oriented plan’. Each QRM over the next three years will focus on different aspects of managing a biosecurity system, with the 2018 QRM focusing on identifying risks and designing controls.

The meeting, the tenth meeting of its kind, was co-hosted by the Indonesian Agricultural Quarantine Agency (IAQA) and the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR).

The meeting had an attendance of 52 delegates representing 29 countries. Representatives from the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) and the World Bank were also in attendance. Dr Antarjo Dikin, Director – Centre for Plant Quarantine and Biosafety, IAQA and Mr Dean Merrilees, Assistant Secretary from DAWR, opened the meeting. Their remarks highlighted the importance of the meeting in continuing to foster international cooperation, the progression of tangible deliverables that will enhance biosecurity measures and the expansion of fora such as the QRM, which are vital to sharing ideas and future visions for sustainable biosecurity systems.

Mr Nathan Reid of DAWR gave a ten year review of the QRM and what it has achieved to date, along with a presentation on the importance of understanding biosecurity systems which flowed into the purpose of the development of a three year theme for the 2018-2020 QRMs.

Following on from the presentation on understanding biosecurity systems, a workshop was held to complete process matrix maps with real life examples of biosecurity risks and the controls that are required for their effective management. Groups were asked to identify risks within their own biosecurity continuums and collectively analyse the controls they currently have in place. Delegates agreed to take alternative views and experiences, learned through the workshops, back to their respective agencies with the intent of being better equipped to develop appropriate controls to manage identified biosecurity risks.

This will continue to enhance the development of actions to drive outcomes in year two of the QRM cycle. This work will be built upon next year when the focus of the QRM shifts to implementing and verifying controls.

IAQA, and the Chilean Agriculture and Livestock Service, both presented on new legislative measures that have been implemented in each of their respective countries to accelerate import and export service activity (Indonesia), as well as progress the introduction of the Australian Fumigation Accreditation Scheme (AFAS) (Chile). These presentations highlighted the need to ensure biosecurity legislation provides a framework for managing biosecurity risk.

Ms Theresa Morrissey of the World Bank provided an overview of the work the World Bank does in trade facilitation. Ms Morrissey also provided an update on the International Plant Protection Convention’s Sea Container Task Force and Mr Dean Merrilees complemented this with a presentation on the Integrated Risk and Compliance Model developed by DAWR, which relates to using risk modelling to manage sea container cleanliness. Air container cleanliness was also covered in depth by New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), focussing on a standard that has been developed and implemented in New Zealand.

The International Regional Organisation for Plant and Animal Health (OIRSA) presented to the forum about how its e-learning course on AFAS has been developed and prepared for implementation, which demonstrated an alternative method of educating government and industry personnel on a biosecurity treatment management arrangement. This presentation was widely regarded by QRM members as an innovative solution to resourcing problems being faced by all members.

The Biosecurity Authority of Fiji presented to the group on alternative treatment methods and MPI discussed its recent major incident response regarding increased detections of Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs.

Marlynne Hopper from the STDF introduced the work that the STDF does with governments and presented a video and moderated discussion on the importance of facilitating safe trade around the world. The STDF emphasised the importance of all stakeholders recognising their responsibilities and the criticality of partnerships being formed.

The 2018 QRM included a field trip to the South Western corner of the island to the cliffs of Uluwatu, exploring the beautiful views of the Balinese coastline. Alongside the cliffs was the Pura Luhur (Balinese Hindu temple) which was able to be trekked. A trip to Pandawa beach followed and insightful cultural information was provided to all participants during the day. The field trip also included a visit to an Ethylene Oxide facility which showed participants an alternative biosecurity treatment facility. Following the facility visit, the group travelled to a coffee processing facility and were educated on the production of coffee from the farm through to export. The QRM Official Dinner also included a performance of traditional Balinese dance.

The meeting concluded with a final workshop reinforcing the need to take a systems approach to managing biosecurity risk. Participants agreed to disseminate what they had learned at this QRM with their respective agencies and were reminded that the QRM group would be an excellent resource to tap into should anyone need guidance or information on current or emerging issues that are being faced.

The QRM again demonstrated the value of the forum as an information sharing platform and as an opportunity for biosecurity agencies to engage and collaborate on issues of shared interest.

Finally, OIRSA announced that it would be co-hosting the 2019 QRM with DAWR in Panama City, Panama and that it looked forward to seeing all QRM delegates in Central America.

QRM 2017 – Vientiane, Lao PDR

Publication details

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, 2017

This communique serves as a written record of the discussions and outcomes from the Quarantine Regulators Meeting.

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The 2017 Quarantine Regulators Meeting Communique

The 2017 Quarantine Regulators Meeting (QRM), with a theme “Emerging Challenges and Opportunities for Biosecurity Compliance”, was held in Vientiane, Lao PDR, from 10 to 12 May 2017.

The meeting, the ninth meeting of its kind, was co-hosted by the Lao Department of Agriculture and the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

The meeting had an attendance of 53 delegates representing 26 countries, discussing issues pertaining to cargo and traveller movement and the very real risks associated with these pathways. Mr Vilaysouk Khennavong, Director General, Lao Department of Agriculture and Mr Andreas Zurbrugg, Deputy Ambassador to the Australian Embassy in Laos opened the meeting, with the keynote address provided by Ms Raelene Vivian, First Assistant Secretary from the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. All remarks highlighted the importance of the meeting in establishing and fostering international cooperation, which is fundamental to the management of biosecurity challenges that agencies are facing, and will continue to face, as trade becomes more liberalised and travellers become more mobile.

The Biosecurity Authority of Fiji presented on the recently established Sea Container Hygiene System, to manage the risks associated with the movement of containers in trade and how the implementation of bilateral arrangements within agencies can assist with the management of this.

The Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources focused on risk and behavioural analysis to inform the development of systems and initiatives to manage the risks associated with vessels and passengers. Discussion centred on underpinning methodologies to encourage voluntary compliance and reduce the occurrence of inadvertent and deliberate non-compliance. Australia also presented on pest surveillance activities that Australia undertakes to identify and respond to the risks associated with vector movement.

New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries exposed delegates to the current risks resulting from the increased use of e-Commerce as a platform for consumers and how agencies can collaborate to identify and target the retailers and businesses associated with this source of trade.

The 2017 QRM included a field trip to the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge and border checkpoint, where delegates were provided with a comprehensive presentation on the activities that the Lao Department of Agriculture undertakes to overcome the challenges posed by the land movement of passengers and cargo. The field trip also included a visit to the Lao Department of Agriculture’s Plant Protection Centre, which enabled delegates to see the diagnostic capability that Laos has for the identification and analysis of plant related risks. The biosecurity aspects of the field trip were well-complemented by a tour through the varied and spectacular cultural sites of Vientiane, which illustrated the proud and rich heritage of the Lao people.

Finally, the meeting concluded with an active discussion on the value of the QRM and its future direction, with a resolve to improve the usefulness of the forum and obtain greater collaboration from all agencies involved in the QRM. The session reiterated the importance of engagement out of session, to effect meaningful change in agencies and assist with proactively identifying and responding to biosecurity challenges.

QRM 2016 – Melbourne, Australia

Publication details

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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2016 QRM Communique PDF 25.89 MB

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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.

GPFD Workshop

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.

Field Trip

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.

ICCBA Meetings

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.

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