54-2017 – Improved monitoring of methyl bromide fumigations for perishable plant products

​25 May 2017

Who does this notice affect?

Class 12.1 Onshore Fumigation Approved Arrangements, brokers and importers of perishable plant products (cut flowers, fresh produce and nursery stock).

Background

Methyl bromide fumigation is an essential treatment option in the effective management of invertebrate pests detected on imported perishable plant products.

A recent period of post-fumigation inspections on infested consignments of cut flowers and fresh produce has raised concerns about the effectiveness of current fumigation practices. The department is concerned that the required concentration of fumigant may not be penetrating the entire consignment for the required amount of time to achieve effective pest control. This could be due to the tight packing of products particularly those with plastic sleeves.

The correct placement of gas monitoring tubes is a critical step to ensure that the required gas concentration has been achieved throughout the target of the fumigation for the prescribed time. 

What has changed?

Effective immediately, the department requires all fumigations of fresh produce, cut flowers and foliage and nursery stock to be monitored by three gas monitoring tubes placed within the target product and packaging.

At least one monitoring tube must be placed in the area which is most difficult for the fumigant to reach. This will generally be in the centre of a package in the centre of the consignment, i.e. for cut flowers – within a plastic sleeve in a flower bunch in the centre of the centre carton; for other products – in the centre of the centre carton.

To implement this change the department will include details on monitoring tube placement on all directions issued for perishable plant products.

How will this affect you?

Placement of gas monitoring tubes within the commodity may increase the time it takes for all monitoring points to reach the required methyl bromide concentration in order to commence the fumigation exposure period. To minimise this, the department recommends that fumigators prepare and stack consignments to improve fumigant circulation and penetration. This may include removal of lids, loosening flower bunches and air stacking cartons with the lids off.

Note: The preparation of consignments for fumigation must be conducted in a secure enclosure such as within the fumigation chamber. This preparation must not be conducted in an open area that would allow the escape of pests from the cartons.

Further information

For additional information you can email Plant Import Operations Branch at Imports or phone 1800 900 090.