Brown marmorated stink bugs questions and answers

​​​​​​​Below is a list of questions and answers. Further questions will be added if necessary. Please check regularly for the most up to date information. See bottom of page for last reviewed date.

About the pest

Why is this particular stink bug such a problem?

This stink bug does not occur in Australia and is a pest of considerable biosecurity concern. It is highly invasive and a voracious feeder with an extensive host range (about 300 known plants including fruit, vegetables and ornamentals). Juveniles and adults feed on, and severely damage, fruit and vegetable crops. The bug is not a risk to human health but is regarded as a nuisance pest because of its habit of seeking shelter in vehicles, homes and factories in large numbers over the winter period. Information on the stink bug has been published previously on the department's website.

About the BMSB measures for Italian containerised cargo

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What is happening?

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has found significant numbers of BMSB on arrival in Australia in various types of containerised goods arriving from Italy since 1 September 2017.

To manage the risk posed by these goods, all containerised goods (FCL, FCX and LCL) shipped via sea cargo from Italy between 17 January 2018 and 30 April 2018 (inclusive) will be required to undergo an approved treatment.  Refer to 2017-18 BMSB Season Measures for approved treatment options for this pest.

Goods already treated offshore with one of the approved BMSB treatments, and where a valid treatment certificate is presented to the department, will not require further treatment.

Exceptions from treatment also apply to goods that fall within one of the excluded tariff groups:

  • Fresh produce (including nursery stock and live plants)
  • Live animals
  • Food for human consumption (including beverages)
  • Seeds for sowing
  • Pharmaceutical products

All other containerised goods arriving from Italy (including new and unused goods), including those already en route to Australia, will require treatment on arrival using methyl bromide, or another approved treatment for BMSB.

These measures are in addition to existing import requirements.  

Why have all containerised goods been included from Italy?

Due to increased detections of BMSB on both target and non-target goods the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources from 17 January 2017 has enacted emergency measures to manage the increased risk of BMSB entering Australia on containerised cargo from Italy.

What are the changes?

All containerised goods shipped via sea cargo from Italy between 17 January 2018 and 30 April 2018 (inclusive) will be required to undergo an approved treatment for BMSB, unless treated offshore or fall within one of the excluded tariff groups.

Why are we taking these measures?

There have been a significant number of detections of Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs (Halyomorpha halys or BMSB) on arrival in Australia in various types of containerised goods arriving from Italy. These measures are designed to prevent the movement of BMSB to Australia and protect our agricultural sector and environment.

When does it take effect?

These measures took effect on 17 January 2018.

What treatments are required for these goods?

Containerised goods from Italy arriving on or after 17 January 2018 will be required to undergo mandatory fumigation with methyl bromide at the BMSB rate. Alternative treatments options for these goods are fumigation with sulfuryl fluoride or heat treatment.  The treatment requirements are as follows:

  • Methyl bromide – at least 16g/m3 for 12 hours or longer with an end point reading of 50 per cent or more of the initial concentration and conducted at a temperature of 15 °C or higher, or a rate of at least 32 g/m³ at 21 °C for a minimum of 24 hours with a 30% retention.
  • Sulfuryl fluoride – at least 48g/m3 for 6 hours or longer or at least 16g/m3 for 12 hours or longer both with an end point reading of 50 per cent or more of the initial concentration and conducted at a temperature of 10 °C or higher. Note: sulfuryl floride treatment certificates issued by ANY Italian treatment provider will no longer be accepted.
  • Heat – at 50 °C or greater for at least 20 minutes. The minimum temperature of the coldest part of the treated good should reach at least 50 °C for at least 20 minutes.

Are offshore treatments accepted?

Goods already treated offshore with one of the approved BMSB treatments, and where a valid treatment certificate is presented to the department, will not require further treatment.

Are any goods excluded?

Exceptions apply to goods that have been treated offshore with one of the approved BMSB treatments, or that fall within one of the excluded tariff groups:

  • Fresh produce (including live plants and nursery stock)
  • Live animals
  • Food for human consumption (including beverages)
  • Seeds for sowing
  • Pharmaceutical products​

Are less than container load (LCL) shipments excluded?

No. All containerised goods, including full container load (FCL, FCX) and less than container load (LCL) shipments arriving from Italy (including new and unused goods), , will require treatment on arrival using methyl bromide, or another approved treatment for BMSB.

My goods may be damaged by methyl bromide treatment, am I able to request an alternative treatment or inspection?

Where methyl bromide is not suitable, another approved treatment for BMSB must be applied on arrival. 

The approved measures to manage the biosecurity risk associated with these goods is methyl bromide or sulfuryl fluoride fumigation, or heat treatment.

How can industry help?

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources asks that all industry stakeholders communicate with their staff and business partners, and advise that when deconsolidating goods during the BMSB risk season (1 September to 30 April 2018) care should be taken to inspect locations where BMSB may congregate, including crevices or protected areas of shipping containers, inside the goods, or within packaging material.

Why are some consignments required to be inspected by the department after treatment?

The department will be inspecting randomly selected containers post-treatment to validate treatment effectiveness and to collect intelligence to determine future measures.

What if my consignments from Italy arrived into Australia prior to 17 January 2018 but are yet to be lodged?

These will be processed at the time of lodgement in the same way as goods arriving after 17 January 2018.  These goods will be directed and require mandatory onshore BMSB treatment.

What if my consignments have arrived after the 17 January 2018 but have already been released or given directions by the departments?

The department will not be seeking to review existing directions.  However, importers or brokers may choose to volunteer consignments for fumigation to manage the risk where they believe their consignment meets the BMSB requirements.

What if there are containers that have multiple consignments from multiple countries, and are being shipped from a non-Italian port?

If any of these consignments are of Italian origin, then the container is subject to the approved BMSB treatments, unless they can provide evidence (i.e. a manufacturer's declaration) that the goods of Italian origin were not exported from Italy during the BMSB season (between 1 September 2017 to 30 April 2018).

What if there are multiple consignments within a container and contain a mixture of excluded tariffs and included tariffs?

Where any consignments are of Italian origin the container is subject to one of the approved BMSB treatments.  All goods should be treated within the container to manage risk of cross-contamination.

Where can I get further information?

For further information on the 2017-18 measures, please see the BMSB webpage or contact airandseacargo@agriculture.gov.au
If importers or shippers see something that could have entered Australia with imported goods report it to the See Secure Report Hotline on 1800 798 636 or complete the online form available at Report a biosecurity concern.

About the measures for Break Bulk cargo and containerised goods for the 2017-18 season

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What is happening?

The 2017-18 measures for break bulk cargo and containerised goods from USA will continue to target vehicles, vessels, machinery and parts from 1 September 2017 to 30 April 2018 inclusive. These measures apply in addition to standard import requirements.

  • From 1 September 2017, all used goods in the target tariffs shipped as break bulk must be treated for potential stink bug infestations.
  • From 1 September 2017 to 30 April 2018, all used goods in the target tariffs shipped FCL/FCX must be clean and treated for potential stink bug infestations. Treatment can be done any time prior to departure as long as the container is sealed immediately afterwards and arrives in Australia seals intact.
  • All new goods in the target tariffs manufactured and/or stored between 1 September and 1 December 2017 and then shipped on or before 30 April 2018 must undergo offshore treatment unless subject to alternative safeguarding arrangements approved by the department (see Alternative arrangements—safeguarding below). This applies to goods shipped break bulk or FCL/FCX.
  • All new goods in the target tariffs manufactured after 1 December 2017 and shipped as break bulk or FCL/FCX on or before 30 April 2018 require a consignment specific manufacturer’s new, unused and not field tested (NUFT) declaration which includes the date and place of manufacture.
    NB A good is only considered to be newly manufactured after 1 December if all its large, complex components have also been manufactured after 1 December.
  • Break bulk goods treated before 1 December must be treated in the 96 hours prior to export. This means that the goods must complete treatment no more than 96 hours prior to the shipped on board date. The shipped on board date is listed on the bill of lading, which must be presented to the department on the goods’ arrival.
  • Italian Break bulk goods that originate from the Port of Zeebrugge must be treated within 120 hours of export.  

NB For BMSB measures, goods transported on flat rack or open top containers will be considered to be break bulk cargo.

What has changed since last season?

The 2017-18 measures are largely the same as the 2016-17 measures, with season dates, treatments, and requirements for management of target goods unchanged.

This season measures that apply to break bulk from the USA will also apply to Italy.

The department is also monitoring the risk of brown marmorated stink bugs from other parts of the world including conducting random verification to monitor risk from emerging BMSB risk countries, and will develop measures as required.

What are the treatment requirements?

The treatment conditions are:

  • Sulfuryl fluoride: at least 48g/m3 for 6 hours or longer or at least 16g/m3 for 12 hours or longer both with an end point reading of 50% or more of the initial concentration and conducted at a temperature of 10 °C or higher. Please note this temperature is 5 °C lower than the methyl bromide conditions below.
  • Methyl bromide: at least 16g/m3 for 12 hours or longer with an end point reading of 50% or more of the initial concentration and conducted at a temperature of 15 °C or higher. Please note this temperature is 5 °C higher than the sulfuryl fluoride conditions above. Or a rate of at least 32 g/m³ at 21 °C for a minimum of 24 hours with a 30% retention.
  • Heat: 50 °C or greater for at least 20 minutes in the coldest location in the vehicle.

Break bulk goods treated before 1 December must complete treatment no more than 96 hours prior to the shipped on board date. The shipped on board date is listed on the bill of lading, which must be presented to the department on the goods’ arrival.

Break bulk goods treated after 1 December are unlikely to become re-infested, so are not subject to this requirement.

Containerised goods can be treated any time before shipment, provided the 6-sided container is sealed immediately.

Goods transported in open or flat-rack containers must be treated as per the break bulk requirements.

What about cargo loaded on flat rack containers?

The department manages cargo loaded on flat racks or open top containers as break bulk cargo.

Do these measures apply to air freight?

Not at this time.

How are tariffs selected for inclusion in the measures for the 2017-18 BMSB season?

The department has found significant numbers of BMSB on arrival in Australia in various types of containerised goods arriving from Italy, and these detections indicate that BMSB are sheltering in a range of containers and goods outside of those captured by existing measures.

As a result and to manage the associated risk, all containerised goods shipped via sea cargo from Italy between 17 January 2018 and 30 April 2018 (inclusive) are subject to approved BMSB treatment.

For containerised goods from the USA and break bulk cargo from USA and Italy, the department’s interception data shows that large, complex goods (target goods) are the primary pathways for BMSB infestations .  Based on information considered from the last season the target goods from the previous season are subject to the heightened measures in the 2017-18 BMSB season.

How are lower risk goods being exempted from broad tariffs?

Wherever lower risk goods can be exempted from the measures using tariff codes, they are.

However, tariffs do not always provide sufficient information on the type of good being imported to do so, and this is why lower risk goods have often been captured in the past. For example, buoys, jet skis and paddleboards have been captured on the same tariffs as boats.

For break bulk cargo the department is using Community Protection (CP) questions to exempt lower risk goods.

Are there likely to be any further changes to the target tariffs this season?

The department is monitoring detections of BMSB and will revise the measures as required.

Why are only goods imported from the United States and Italy being targeted?

The department’s interception data shows that for break bulk cargo, new and used vehicles, machinery and parts from the United States and Italy are the primary pathways for BMSB infestations detected at the border at this time.

Although the department has been intercepting BMSB on goods from Asia during the last decade, these have been only occasional hitchhiking specimens. A few hitchhiking BMSB in later life stages are less of a risk as they are less likely to establish on arrival in Australia given they tend to desiccate during the voyage without the protection of diapause (a form of overwintering).

The department has detected BMSB on goods from other parts of Europe the last two seasons. The department is monitoring BMSB populations in Europe and tracks all BMSB detections for evidence of emerging trends.

The department will continue to conduct heightened surveillance on all goods arriving form areas which pose a potential risk of BMSB importation to Australia. As with the current measures for containerised cargo from Italy, the department may introduce new measures for other pathways if emerging information indicates that this is warranted.

Why has Italy been included in the season measures?

Over past BMSB seasons we have been collecting data on other countries in the northern hemisphere. We have determined that substantial BMSB populations are present in Italy, and detections at the border indicate an active risk of importation of the pest into Australia on this pathway.  As a result, measures need to be applied to target goods from Italy.    

Why do goods exported from the Port of Zeebrugge have a 120 hour treatment to export window?

The department has now extended the post BMSB treatment window for Italian break bulk goods treated before 1 December 2017 from 96 hours to 120 hours where the goods are shipped through the Belgium Port of Zeebrugge. The lack of reported BMSB populations in Belgium reduces the risk of post treatment contamination from a local source around the port, however, the residual risk must still be managed by segregating treated and untreated goods prior to shipment.  The extension to 120 hours also assists in aligning Australia’s and New Zealand’s requirements for this type of cargo.

The department would consider similar arrangements for goods shipped from other non-Italian European ports, where the BMSB risk at that port is low and similar segregation arrangements are or can be put in place.

As BMSB is present in higher levels in many areas of the United States, the 96 hour window will remain for US at-risk goods although this may be reviewed in the future. 

The post treatment window for break bulk ceases after 1 December as the goods are unlikely to become re infested.  There is no similar window for containerised goods that are sealed in the container immediately after treatment.

What if I don't have my target goods treated offshore?

It is the department’s expectation that pre-shipment treatment will be completed when required. If targeted break bulk and containerised cargo arrives in Australia with no treatment, it will be directed for treatment here. For break bulk goods, the treatment must be implemented within 48 hours of discharge at an Australian port. Containerised cargo that arrives with seals intact can be moved to an Approved Arrangement site and treated when facilities become available provided the seals remain intact. In such cases, the container can be treated as a whole without the need for a full unpack inspection.

Importers should be aware that treatment on arrival in Australia may not be possible at the port of arrival or subsequent ports. Should large volumes of cargo arrive untreated, this is likely to cause logistical issues which may result in wharf congestion and additional storage or demurrage costs.

Do goods from the USA that have been manufactured prior to 1 December 2017 and that have not been pre-treated offshore still need to be fully unpacked/inspected on arrival?

The following applies for target goods that arrive that have neither been pre-treated offshore nor have an approved safeguarding arrangement:

  • New and used goods will be immediately directed for mandatory BMSB treatment on shore on arrival, providing the identified risk is acceptably low.
  • Break bulk goods must be treated within 48 hours.
  • Used goods will be subject to a full unpack inspection following treatment to ensure that all other biosecurity risks have been managed.

What about goods manufactured in other countries that are transported by road or rail to US or Italian ports?

These goods are subject to the measures as there is opportunity for the goods to be infested with BMSB in the US or Italy, particularly if the goods are stockpiled at any point.

What about goods manufactured in and shipped from the US or Italy that tranship through other ports?

The measures apply to all target goods originating in the US or Italy during BMSB season. This includes goods that may subsequently be loaded/transhipped to Australia via ports in other countries such as Japan, Mexico or Canada for goods originating in the US, or through other countries in Europe for goods originating in Italy.

What about goods manufactured in other countries being transhipped through US or Italian ports?

Goods manufactured and loaded onto a vessel outside of the US or Italy then transhipped through a US or Italian port will not be impacted by these heightened measures. However, if the department cannot identify these goods as transhipments on arrival then they will be regarded as being of US or Italian origin/manufacture and managed accordingly.

What if there is a delay at the port and goods that should have been shipped prior to 1 September are shipped at a later date?

The onus is on the importer to provide sufficient documentation to the department to show that the goods were in fact delivered for shipment before the start date of 1 September 2017.

About the required documentation

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Where certificates should be sent?

All documentation, including pre-shipment treatment certificates, can now be submitted to the department via the Cargo Online Lodgement System (COLS).

What documentation shows when the goods have been shipped?

Bills of lading must include the shipped on board date. The department uses the shipped on board date on the bill of lading as the date shipped from the US or Italy, thus determining whether target goods are subject to the seasonal measures.

What other documentation is required for new goods manufactured after 1 December 2017?

New Break bulk goods and containerised goods from the USA manufactured after 1 December 2017 and shipped on or before 30 April 2018 will not require mandatory offshore treatment. A good is only considered to be manufactured after 1 December if all its large, complex components have also been manufactured after 1 December.

Unless these goods are subject to a safeguarding arrangement, a declaration will need to be provided about the date and place of manufacture. The declaration can be provided on the standard new and unused and not field tested (NUFT) declaration. The NUFT should clearly state that the goods are subject to the BMSB season requirements and include the date and place of manufacture for all goods in the consignment, unless the goods are subject to approved safeguarding arrangements.

The department will direct these goods for treatment on arrival if the NUFT does not clearly identify the date of manufacture.

Refer to the department’s minimum documentary requirements policy for further information on documentation requirements.

What happens if the broker/importer does not lodge documents on time?

It is not the responsibility of the department to chase the lodgment of documents. If the required documents are not submitted in time or are incomplete, the goods will be regarded as untreated and directed for treatment onshore. Break bulk goods that cannot be verified as treated within 48 hours of discharge may be directed for export. It is therefore recommended that documents be lodged correctly, and at least 48 hours prior to vessel arrival.

About safeguarding

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What is a safeguarding system for new goods?

Safeguarding is a more detailed pest risk management plan/system that can be implemented by manufacturers offshore as an alternative to the mandatory pre-shipment requirements. A safeguarding arrangement does not override other import conditions for the goods.

Manufacturers/importers will need to provide the department with evidence of alternative risk management measures that will safeguard their goods from BMSB infestation during the manufacture and storage process, and ensure that their goods arrive in Australia free from contamination and infestations from other risks of biosecurity concern.

Once a proposal is received from a manufacturer/importer with relevant supporting information (such as photographs, pest system certification and reports, assembly line plans and entry points, storage area maps ), the department will undertake a desk audit of the outlined system and advise the manufacturer of any further information or measures necessary. Once the department is satisfied that the system will mitigate this BMSB risk offshore, any additional intervention by the department on shore for this pest and other pests will be rolled back to minimal levels.

Approval of a safeguarding system will apply to all new goods from that source shipped from the date of approval to 30 April 2018. Manufacturers declarations for individual cargo covered under the safeguarding system will not need to detail the date and place of manufacture once the system is in place. However, if there is an infestation discovered in the goods, emergency measures will be implemented and the safeguarding approval rescinded.

Details of manufacturers and their goods that have been accepted under the safeguarding system will be published on the department’s web site. This will provide some surety to industry including carriers (transport companies, shipping lines, stevedores ) that the goods in question represent a lower risk of infestation with this pest and should be permitted to be discharged to the wharf of arrival, unless there is an identified emerging biosecurity threat at that time.

Details on Safeguarding requirements, eligibility, responsibilities and how to apply are available on the department’s website or by contacting Air and Sea Cargo.

Other actions industry can take to stop BMSB

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What do I do if I notice insects on goods?

The sooner the department knows about any suspect bugs, the better able it will be able to manage the risk. The Biosecurity Act 2015 requires persons in charge of goods that are subject to biosecurity control to notify the department of reportable biosecurity incidents such as live pests. If you notice insects on imported goods, report them either:

See Reportable biosecurity incidents on the department’s website for more information.

Can BMSB from untreated goods contaminate treated goods?

Yes. It is advisable to keep treated and untreated break bulk goods physically segregated both on wharf prior to loading and on vessel. This will help avoid the risk of cross-contamination.

Is there a way to monitor for this pest during the shipping process?

Yes. Light traps have been effective in previous seasons in capturing BMSB on-board break bulk vessels, and facilitate early notification and proactive response to the pest.  Manufacturers, importers and shipping line operators are encouraged to operate traps at manufacturing and storage facilities, load ports and on board shipping vessels to monitor for the presence of the pest.

More information

If you have further questions regarding these measures, please email Air and Sea Cargo or contact your local departmental regional office.

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