The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (the department) has completed a non-regulated analysis of existing policy for the importation of fresh strawberry fruit from the Republic of Korea into Australia.
There were three principal steps in the review:
The final report contains details of pests with the potential to be associated with the export of strawberries from Korea, and are of quarantine concern to Australia, the risk assessments for the identified quarantine pests and the recommended risk management measures in order to reduce the level of biosecurity risk to an acceptable level.
Pests of quarantine concern
Five quarantine pests were identified as requiring risk management measures. Four of these pests are arthropods and one is a pathogen.
The four quarantine arthropod pests requiring risk management measures are: Frankliniella intonsa (Eurasian flower thrips), Frankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips), Tetranychus kanzawai (Kanzawa spider mite) and Drosophila suzukii (spotted wing drosophila).
The quarantine pathogen pest requiring risk management measures is: Xanthomonas fragariae (angular leaf spot).
Recommended risk management measures
The recommended risk management measures take account of regional differences within Australia. One arthropod pest requiring measures, western flower thrips, has been identified as a quarantine pest for Northern Territory, and another arthropod pest, Kanzawa spider mite, has been identified as a quarantine pest for Western Australia.
The final report recommends a range of risk management measures, combined with operational systems to ensure biosecurity standards are met. These measures will reduce the risks posed by the five quarantine pests, and achieve Australia’s appropriate level of protection. These measures include:
- consignment freedom verified by pre-export visual inspection and, if detected, remedial action for the spider mite and two thrips
- area freedom or fruit treatment (such as methyl bromide fumigation or irradiation) for spotted wing drosophila
- area freedom or a systems approach approved by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources for angular leaf spot.
The recommendations in the final report are an administrative step and reflect the completion of the risk analysis for fresh strawberries from the Republic of Korea. There are a number of other steps to be completed before imports can commence:
- The department will verify that the Republic of Korea can action the recommended risk management measures.
- Import conditions will be published on the department’s Biosecurity Import Conditions System (BICON). Interested stakeholders can register in the BICON system and receive an alert when the case is updated.
- A decision to import fresh strawberry fruit from the Republic of Korea into Australia is a commercial decision between an importer in Australia and a supplier in Korea who can meet the import conditions. Import permits would need to be issued for trade to commence.
Meeting Australia's food laws
All food sold in Australia must satisfy Australia’s food laws. Australian law requires that all food, including imported fresh fruit, meets the standards set out in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, adheres to the food laws of each state and territory, and meets the requirements of the Imported Food Control Act 1992.
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources regulates imported food through inspection, testing and control of imported food in line with the Imported Food Control Act 1992. These inspections and tests form the Imported Food Inspection Scheme (IFIS). Commodities selected for inspection are based on risk as advised by FSANZ.
Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) and the state and territory health authorities are responsible for ensuring compliance within Australia, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources takes responsibility for food standards at the border.
For this risk analysis the department put in place a new Biosecurity Liaison Officer role which was a suggestion by industry in the Import Risk Analysis examination process conducted in 2014.
The Biosecurity Liaison Officer acted as a first point of contact for stakeholders to address any concerns and provide information about the risk analysis process.
The Biosecurity Liaison Officer’s role was to:
- share information between stakeholders and the team doing the risk analysis
- answer stakeholder questions
- provide advance notice of steps in the risk analysis and where the process is up to.
Following the release of the Draft report for the non-regulated analysis of existing policy for fresh strawberry fruit from the Republic of Korea on 25 August 2016, seven submissions were received during the consultation process. The non-confidential submissions can be viewed on the Submissions received to the draft report page. All stakeholder submissions were considered when the department finalised the risk analysis.
A number of changes to the risk analysis report were made following consideration of stakeholder comments on the draft report and a subsequent review of the literature.
The main technical changes include amendments to the pest categorisation table:
- the status of three pests in Australia and three pests in Korea
- further clarification for six pests
- the addition of a thrips species which is present in both Korea and Australia.
Key technical issues raised in the submissions are shown in Appendix B, located at the back of the final report and in a separate document on the website with additional information.
Note that if new scientific information becomes available, it can be provided to the department for consideration after a risk analysis has been completed. The department will consider information provided and if appropriate review import requirements based on new scientific information.
Further information is available by emailing Biosecurity Consultation or calling 1800 068 468.
Strawberry production and trade
In 2014–15, Australia produced around 45,600 tonnes of strawberries, with a small percentage of production being exported.
Strawberry exports from Australia are increasing, rising from around 2000 tonnes in 2015 (worth $13 million), to nearly 3000 tonnes in 2015 (worth $24.5 million) to nearly 4000 tonnes in 2016—not including December (worth $32.7 million). Key markets are Singapore, United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, Kuwait, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong/China, and Saudi Arabia. (source: Trade Map).
Australia allows fresh strawberry imports for human consumption from United States (California) and New Zealand, provided they meet Australia’s biosecurity requirements.
Only small amounts of fresh strawberries have been imported in recent years. In 2014, 23 tonnes were imported from New Zealand, and in 2015 there were no fresh strawberry imports from New Zealand or the United States (Source: Trade Map).
Strawberry exports from Korea in recent years were 3000 tonnes in 2014 (worth $35 million), 3300 tonnes in 2015 (worth $43.8 million) and 2884 tonnes in 2016—not including December (worth $33.8 million) in 2016.
Key markets for Korean strawberries are Singapore and Hong Kong (non-protocol markets that do not require phytosanitary measures). Korea has recently gained access to two protocol markets, Canada and Vietnam.
Non-regulated analysis of existing policy
A non-regulated analysis of existing policy is a process used by the department to consider an import proposal when most of the potential quarantine pests of concern identified are the same as, or similar to, quarantine pests for which import policies currently exist. These analyses are comprehensive reviews of existing policy and new science.
Australia has existing import policy for strawberries from New Zealand and the United States (California). Preliminary research has identified that the majority of pests associated with strawberries in Korea are the same as or similar to those of strawberries from New Zealand and the United States (California).
The analysis considered the risks associated with the proposed import along with any sanitary and phytosanitary measures that could address these risks.
If the risks posed by an import proposal exceed Australia’s appropriate level of protection (ALOP), the analysis specifies that the import will not proceed, unless appropriate measures have been identified that will reduce those risks to an acceptable level.
Considerations during a non-regulated analysis of existing policy
All World Trade Organization (WTO) Members are signatories to the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (the SPS Agreement), under which they have both rights and obligations.
The basic obligations of the SPS Agreement are that SPS measures must:
- be based on a risk assessment appropriate to the circumstances or drawn from standards developed by the World Organization for Animal Health and the International Plant Protection Convention
- only be applied to the extent necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health
- be based on science
- not arbitrarily or unjustifiably discriminate between WTO members, or be a disguised restriction on trade.
Under the SPS Agreement, each WTO Member is entitled to maintain a level of protection it considers appropriate to protect human, animal or plant life or health within its territory.
Appropriate level of protection
Australia’s appropriate level of protection (ALOP) is defined in the Biosecurity Act 2015 as a high level of protection aimed at reducing biosecurity risks to very low, but not to zero.
This definition has been reached with the agreement of all state and territory governments and recognises that a zero risk stance is impractical because this would mean Australia would have no tourists, no international travel and no imports.
The ALOP is a broad objective, and risk management measures are established to achieve that objective.
The term ‘biosecurity risk’ is used to describe the combination of the likelihood and the consequences of a pest or disease of biosecurity concern entering, establishing and spreading in Australia.
Australia's biosecurity system protects our unique environment and agricultural sector and supports our reputation as a safe and reliable trading nation. This has significant economic, environmental and community benefits for all Australians.
A risk analysis is an examination of the potential biosecurity risks associated with an import of animals, plants or other goods into Australia. It plays an important role in protecting Australia’s biosecurity.
If the assessed level of biosecurity risk exceeds Australia’s ALOP, the department will consider whether there are any risk management measures that would reduce biosecurity risk to achieve the ALOP. If there are no risk management measures that reduce the risk to that level, trade will not be allowed.
Protecting Australia from exotic pests
A comprehensive risk assessment of pests and diseases has been undertaken and risk management options have been recommended. Any recommended measures will reflect Australia’s overall approach to the management of the biosecurity risk.
Zero risk is impossible; it would mean no tourists, no international travel and no imports of any commodities. Australia invests heavily in biosecurity to ensure risks are managed at the lowest possible level.
Australia exports almost two thirds of its agricultural produce. The future of our agriculture and food industries depends on Australia’s capacity to maintain a good plant and animal health status.
Australia accepts imports only when we are confident the risks can be managed to meet Australia’s Appropriate Level of Protection.