Sydney biosecurity takes off

International travellers arriving at Sydney International Airport recorded a one per cent rise in the number of biosecurity risk items seized in 2016, despite an 8.8 per cent rise in the number of passengers.

Head of biosecurity operations at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Nico Padovan, said the results bucked a national trend that saw an average rise of 6 per cent across the nation.

“Sydney passengers are clearly getting the message that biosecurity is important, and that’s great news for the nation,” Mr Padovan said.

“But despite an overall reduction in the amount of seizures, some concerning trends emerged in 2016—people need to consider what they are risking when they pack their suitcases.

“If you’re unsure, don’t bring it or declare it!

“We’ve seen an increase of almost 16 per cent in the volume of seafood products seized at the airport in 2016.

“That places Sydney’s iconic harbour and beaches, our marine environment and Australia’s $3 billion fisheries and aquaculture industries at risk.

“And the volume of apples and pears has risen 14 per cent—just one apple, even one handed out on an international flight, could carry fruit flies into the country.

“The introduction of exotic fruit flies could cripple our $556 million apple industry through reduced market access, reduced farm profits and increased production costs.”

Biosecurity seizures at Sydney International Airport in 2016 included:

  • 7,595 kg of seafood, a 16% increase from 2015.
  • 16,658 kg of meat, an 8% increase from 2015.
  • 3,676 kg of apples and pears, a 14% increase from 2015.
  • 2,907 kg of seeds, a 28% increase from 2015.

“Across Australia 273,000 items of biosecurity concern were seized in 2016, up by more than 6 per cent from 2015,” said Mr Padovan.

“In 2016 4.1 million international passengers were screened biosecurity officers at Australian Airports. It’s a big job. And travellers need to play their part in protecting our nation.

“Biosecurity officers target deliberate concealment and non-compliance using the best science, analysis and intelligence. Those breaking the law are punished accordingly.”

For more information on what can and can’t be brought to Australia visit

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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