Managing invertebrate pests offshore

​​To ensure Australia’s biosecurity is protected, all consignments of fresh cut flowers and foliage must be endorsed by the national plant protection organisation (NPPO) of the exporting country as being free of live quarantine pests.

Australia accepts several methods for the offshore management of live invertebrate pests of quarantine concern:

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NPPO-approved systems approach for the import of cut flowers to Australia

A systems approach is a series of integrated pest management measures applied at different points in the supply chain. An NPPO-approved systems approach offers an alternative to treatments such as methyl bromide fumigation.

The NPPO of the exporting country must approve and certify the systems approach. Each consignment prepared for export under a systems approach must be inspected by the NPPO of the exporting country to verify that no quarantine pests are present.

The NPPO must sample and inspect consignments for live quarantine pests and ensure that it meets Australia’s import conditions. Consignments meeting the requirements of the NPPO approved systems approach must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate with the following additional declaration:

“This consignment was produced and prepared for export by [insert name of approved growers and/or packing houses] under an NPPO approved systems approach and was inspected and found free from live quarantine pests.”

If live quarantine pests are detected, a phytosanitary certificate should not be issued.

Example of a systems approach

The following diagram shows how a systems approach could be used to produce pest free cut flowers and foliage for export to Australia.  Not all steps may be required, but where a step is critical to managing a quarantine pest to achieve Australia’s import requirements, the NPPO must confirm that these critical controls have been applied.

Image showing the steps in a systems approach to manage plant pests

Measures that can be used as part of a systems approach

Under a systems approach various measures might be put in place at both production and post-harvest stages.

  • Site management
  • Sanitation and hygiene
  • Pest free production sites
  • Production inputs
  • Pest free propagation material
  • Clean growing media
  • Pest monitoring e.g. visual examination and trapping
  • Pest control
    • Pesticides e.g. chemical and organic (oils, soaps, plant extracts)
    • Physical e.g. enclosed production systems such as glasshouses and screen houses
    • Cultural e.g. field hygiene and sanitation, planting densities
    • Mechanical e.g. use of sticky traps
    • Biological e.g. release of predators to suppress pest populations.
  • Sorting and grading
  • Post-harvest treatments e.g. chemical, physical, controlled atmosphere
  • Hygiene and sanitation of packing facilities
  • Temperature control during the packing process
  • Packing in pest proof containers to prevent re-infestation
  • Inspection to verify freedom form live quarantine pests.

Pre-shipment methyl bromide fumigation

Consignments fumigated in accordance with the department’s requirements must be accompanied by a Phytosanitary Certificate AND attached with the relevant fumigation certificate. For further details see the relevant conditions for your product as outlined in BICON.

If methyl bromide is banned in the country of export, a systems approach or alternative treatments should be used to manage pests on flowers or foliage intended for Australia.

NPPO-approved alternative pre-shipment treatments

Australia will accept any treatments approved by the NPPO of the exporting country that are applied to kill pests on cut flowers for export to Australia. The department does not need to approve the treatment prior to its use unless the NPPO wishes to apply alternative treatments designed only to achieve pest sterility e.g. irradiation.

The NPPO of the exporting country must:

  • approve and certify the treatment on a phytosanitary certificate
  • inspect each treated consignment to verify freedom of live quarantine pests.

Possible alternative treatments

Various countries are undertaking research on development of alternative treatments to methyl bromide to treat cut flowers. One example is low temperature phosphine fumigation. The following papers outline some of the research into the effects of phosphine on insect pests and flower quality:

Import permits

Where an exporting country’s non-compliance with Australia’s import conditions is unacceptably high, we may require permits to be used for shipping cut flowers and foliage to Australia.

Read our industry advice notice issued 30 May 2019 announcing the requirement for import permits for countries using a systems approach with high non-compliance and high trade volumes from 1 September 2019.

Applying for permits

Your permit application must include details of how your proposed supply chain management system (SCMS) will reduce pest loads arriving in Australia. The risk controls you propose must not include those already required by the exporting country’s National Plant and Protection Organisation.

See our guide to developing a supply chain management system for details of our requirements.

From 1 July 2019, you will be able to check which countries require permits, and apply for permits in our BICON system.

Initial permits issued will be valid for four months.

All shipments arriving under the import permit will require an inspection by the department’s biosecurity officers to confirm if they are free from live quarantine pests.

You are encouraged to send shipments that are free from live pests to avoid delays at the border and to remain compliant with the conditions of the permit.

Applications for further permits will be subject to a review of the effectiveness of the previous permit conditions in preventing the arrival of live quarantine pests. We may require you to modify your supply chain control measures before granting the permit.

We may not issue subsequent permits if non-compliance remains high.

Managing pests onshore

Australia’s import co​nditions​ require that the biosecurity risks of cut flowers and foliage are appropriately reduced offshore before they are sent to Australia.

On arrival in Australia, we will inspect your goods and may require further treatment, export or destruction if they do not meet the import conditions.

When we find live pests

If a Biosecurity Officer finds a live pest on your consignment, they will immediately segregate it and take steps to contain the pests within the consignment.

Once our scientists have identified and assessed the quarantine status of the live pest found, and determined it to be a quarantine pest, you will be notified and the consignment will be directed for remedial treatment. Voluntary fumigation will not be offered.

Remedial treatment is methyl bromide fumigation. Costs associated are borne by the importer.

If you do not wish to have your cut flower consignment undergo remedial treatment (methyl bromide fumigation), you will receive a direction to either destroy or re-export your consignment.

Affected consignments will remain segregated while investigations are carried out. This may include being stored in a cold room at 10oC or below, or within a fumigation enclosure.

We do not offer compensation for goods which become unsellable whilst waiting for scientific assessment of quarantine pests.

When we find non-quarantine live pests

If a Biosecurity Officer finds a live pest on your consignment, they will immediately segregate it and take steps to contain the pests within the consignment.

Once our scientists have identified and assessed the quarantine status of the live pest found, and determined it not to be a quarantine pest, your consignment will be released.

When we find dead pests

No action will be taken if dead pests are found. We will only take action if the quarantine pests are live or we find any other biosecurity concerns within the consignment.

Other conditions

Read about the other conditions that must be satisfied to import fresh cut flowers and foliage into Australia.