Limes from the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu

​​​​​​Final risk analysis for the review of biosecurity import requirements for Tahitian limes from the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu

​​​We conducted a risk analysis for fresh Tahitian limes (Citrus latifolia) from the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.

We conducted the risk analysis in three key steps:

  1. Announced the commencement of the risk analysis on 15 April 2016, via Biosecurity Advice 2016-12.
  2. Released the draft risk analysis on 6 June 2017, for a 60 day consultation period via Biosecurity Advice 2017-09.
  3. Released the final risk analysis on 28 March 2018, via Biosecurity Advice 2018-07. The final risk analysis considers all stakeholder comments submitted during the consultation period.

Public submissions and the department’s response can now be viewed.

A summary of the review background and process is available in the factsheet.

Import Conditions

Import conditions for Tahitian limes from the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu are now available on our Biosecurity Import Conditions (BICON) database. This means it is now possible to import Tahitian limes from these countries, as long as the department grants an import permit.

Stakeholders can find details on the import conditions in the BICON case.

Import of Tahitian limes into Australia is a commercial decision between an importer in Australia and a supplier in the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.​

​​​​​​​​​​​​Final risk analysis - Summary

The Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (the department) has prepared this report to assess the biosecurity risk associated with the import of fresh Tahitian limes from the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu into Australia.

The department received formal requests from Samoa and Vanuatu for market access for fresh Tahitian limes. The Cook Islands, Niue and Tonga subsequently expressed interest in exporting fresh Tahitian limes to Australia. Given the similarities in pest status, all five countries have been included in this risk analysis.

Australia permits the importation of fresh limes from Egypt, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Spain and the United States of America (USA) for human consumption provided they meet Australian biosecurity requirements.

This report recommends that the importation of fresh Tahitian limes to Australia from all commercial production areas of the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu be permitted, subject to a range of biosecurity conditions.

This report contains details of pests that are of quarantine concern to Australia with the potential to be associated with the importation of fresh Tahitian limes, the risk assessments for the identified quarantine pests, and the recommended risk management measures to reduce the biosecurity risk to an acceptable level.

Three pests have been identified as requiring risk management measures. All three pests are arthropods. These pests are Dysmicoccus neobrevipes (grey pineapple mealybug), Planococcus minor (Pacific mealybug) and Pseudococcus cryptus (cryptic mealybug).

Planococcus minor and Pseudococcus cryptus were assessed as being regional quarantine pests for Western Australia and Dysmicoccus neobrevipes was assessed as being a quarantine pest for all of Australia.

This report recommends risk management measures, combined with operational systems to reduce the risks posed by the three quarantine pests, to achieve the appropriate level of protection for Australia. The risk management measures include a pre-export phytosanitary inspection to be undertaken by the exporting country to ensure that each consignment is free of identified quarantine pests. All consignments will be inspected on arrival in Australia to verify the absence of pests. If consignments are found to be infested, they are subject to appropriate remedial action.

Written submissions on the draft report were received from six stakeholders. The final report takes into account stakeholder comments on the draft report. The department has made a number of changes to the risk analysis following consideration of stakeholder comments on the draft report and subsequent review of the literature. These changes include:

  • Reviewing the pest risk assessment for Elsinoë fawcettii, including revising the likelihood of importation from ‘low’ to ‘moderate’, and the addition of new references.
  • Updating the pest categorisation table to clarify the host association of Homalodisca vitripennis with citrus fruit and its potential to be imported in trade.
  • Minor corrections, rewording and editorial changes for consistency and clarity.
The addition of Appendix B ‘Issues raised in stakeholder comments’, which summarises the key stakeholder comments and how they were considered in the final report.

Lime production in the Pacific

Limes produced in the Pacific Islands mainly supply local markets as there are limited export market access opportunities. Tahitian limes are grown all year round, although harvests targeted for export may be limited by seasonal demand in overseas markets.  A small volume of Tahitian limes grown in Samoa and Vanuatu are exported to New Zealand.

Limes are harvested by hand, with the fruit being twisted off the tree and placed directly into baskets or containers for transfer to the packing house, where it is washed and graded by hand. The fruit is checked for presence of pests and symptoms of infestation, as well as quality issues such as bruising, scarring, colour and size. The fruit is then inspected, cleared and transported to the airport or seaport for export. Tahitian lime export consignments from the Pacific Islands are typically small (usually less than 1 500 kilograms), so airfreight is the preferred method of transport.

General Information

Register as a stakeholder

We use the stakeholder register for distributing biosecurity risk analysis policy information. Stakeholders interested in receiving information and updates on biosecurity risk analyses are invited to subscribe via our new online subscription service. By subscribing to Biosecurity Risk Analysis Plant, you will receive Biosecurity Advices and other notifications relating to plant biosecurity policy.

Protecting Australia from exotic pests

A comprehensive risk analysis of pests and diseases is undertaken and risk management options are recommended to address any risks of exotic pests and diseases. Any recommended measures will reflect Australia’s overall approach to the management of 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 to the lowest possible level.

Australia exports almost two thirds of its agricultural produce. The future of our agriculture and food industries, including their capacity to contribute to growth and jobs, depends on Australia’s capacity to maintain a good plant and animal health status.

Australia accepts imports only when we are confident the risks of pests and diseases can be managed to achieve the appropriate level of protection for Australia.

International obligations

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 – in other words, its appropriate level of protection.

Appropriate level of protection

The appropriate level of protection (ALOP) for Australia is defined in the Biosecurity Act 2015 as ‘a high level of sanitary and phytosanitary protection aimed at reducing biosecurity risks to very low, but not to zero’. This definition was agreed with all our state and territory governments and recognises that a zero-risk stance is impractical.

The ALOP is a broad objective, and risk management measures are established to achieve that objective.

Read more about Australia’s ALOP

Biosecurity risk

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.

New scientific information

Scientific information can be provided to the department at any time, even after a risk analysis has been completed. The department will consider the information provided and will review the import policy.

Meeting Australia’s food standards

Imported food for human consumption must satisfy Australia’s food standards. Australian law requires that all food, including imported fresh fruit, meets the standards set out in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code and the requirements of the Imported Food Control Act 1992. Each state and territory also has its own food laws that must be met.

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) is responsible for developing and maintaining the Food Standards Code. The standards apply to all food in Australia, irrespective of whether it is grown domestically or imported.

Timing of imports

The recommendations in the final report are an administrative step and reflect the completion of the risk analysis. Before imports can commence we will:

  • verify that a country can action the recommended risk management measures,
  • publish import conditions on the Biosecurity Import Conditions System (BICON), and
  • issue import permits for trade to commence.

The decision to import agricultural produce to Australia is a commercial decision between an importer in Australia and a supplier in the exporting country who can meet the import conditions.

Contact information

For more information, stakeholders can email Imports or phone 1800 900 090 (option 1, option 1).

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