19 July 2010
Why is this import risk analysis (IRA) being undertaken?
Australia is responding to the USA's market access request for fresh stone fruit, dating from 1994. This is part of an agreement between Australia and the USA to consider each country's requests for agricultural exports.
What is an IRA and how does it work?
An import risk analysis (IRA) is a regulated process that identifies and assesses risks posed by the pests and diseases relevant to an import proposal. If those risks exceed Australia’s appropriate level of protection, the IRA specifies what measures should be taken to reduce those risks to an acceptable level. The IRA process is described in the Import Risk Analysis Handbook 2007 (update 2009), available on the Biosecurity Australia website.
The IRA involves releasing a draft IRA report for a 60-day stakeholder comment period, considering and incorporating the comments into a provisional final IRA report. The provisional final IRA report is then published for a 30-day appeals period. Appeals are considered by the Import Risk Analysis Appeals Panel, which is independent of Biosecurity Australia.
A final IRA report is published after an import policy determination is made by the Director of Animal and Plant Quarantine.
What is the policy determination?
Australia’s Director of Animal and Plant Quarantine makes a policy determination on the basis of consideration of the final IRA report, the report from the Import Risk Analysis Appeals Panel and any other relevant information.
The making of a determination is an administrative process—in a legal sense it does not authorise anything. The policy determination provides a policy framework for decisions on whether or not to grant an import permit and any conditions that may be attached to the permit.
For the USA stone fruit IRA, the policy determination was made on 16 July 2010.
What is the progress of the USA fresh stone fruit IRA?
Biosecurity Australia has completed an IRA on fresh stone fruit from California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. The IRA covers the plant pests and disease risks associated with the proposed importation of stone fruit from the four designated areas, and the management of those risks. It does not deal with human health issues.
The IRA formally commenced in March 2008, and followed the regulated approach for a standard IRA.
A provisional final IRA report was released on 15 March 2010 for the 30 day appeal period. Two appeals were received and the Chair of the Import Risk Analysis Appeals Panel decided the claims made within both appeals required the panel's consideration. The panel disallowed both appeals.
The final IRA report identifies a range of pests and diseases requiring quarantine measures. The recommended measures are a combination of risk management measures and operational systems that will reduce the risk associated with the importation of fresh stone fruit from California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington into Australia to achieve Australia's appropriate level of protection.
The final IRA report recommends the importation of fresh stone fruit to Australia from California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington be permitted, subject to specific quarantine measures.
On 16 July 2010, the Director of Animal and Plant Quarantine made a policy determination that the importation of fresh stone fruit may be permitted subject to the Quarantine Act 1908, the application of phytosanitary measures as specified in the final IRA report and the application of suitable emergency measures for Drosophila suzukii.
What quarantine pests and diseases have been identified?
The final IRA report identifies 20 pests requiring quarantine measures to manage risks to a very low level in order to achieve Australia's appropriate level of protection.
These pests include: apple maggot, peach twig borer, three fruit boring moths, four species of mealybugs, seven species of leafrollers and four species of thrips. Of these, citrophilus mealybug and oriental fruit moth were identified as pests of regional quarantine concern to Western Australia only.
What quarantine measures have been recommended for fresh stone fruit from California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington?
The recommended quarantine measures are a combination of risk management measures and operational systems that will reduce the risk associated with the importation of fresh stone fruit from California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington into Australia to achieve Australia's ALOP, specifically:
- a systems approach for peach twig borer that includes in-field control measures, orchard surveys and fruit cutting in the packing house
- fruit cutting in the packing house to detect cherry fruitworm and lesser apple fruitworm
- sourcing fruit from pest free areas, or areas of low pest prevalence for oriental fruit moth (exports to Western Australia only)
- sourcing and packing fruit in areas recognised as free from apple maggot (for apricots, plums and their interspecific hybrids)
- visual inspection of all consignments for mealybugs, leafrollers and thrips and remedial action if quarantine pests are detected
- a supporting operational system to maintain and verify the phytosanitary status of consignments
- The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) will verify that the recommended phytosanitary measures have occurred.
Will Australia be adequately protected from exotic pests?
A comprehensive risk assessment of pests of quarantine concern has been undertaken and, where appropriate, risk management measures have been recommended to address the risks of exotic pests and diseases entering and establishing in Australia. The assessment is based on the latest available scientific information and the recommended measures reflect Australia’s conservative approach to managing quarantine risks.
Are there any regional differences for Australian states?
Regional differences have been identified for two pests (citrophilus mealybug and oriental fruit moth). These pests have been identified as quarantine pests for Western Australia. The recommended quarantine measures take account of this regional difference.
Does Australia allow any imports of stone fruit now?
Australia has existing policy that allows for the importation of stone fruit from New Zealand. Apricots, nectarines, peaches and plums may be imported from New Zealand into all Australian states, but conditions for oriental fruit moth currently limit imports into Western Australia for fruit sourced from the South Island.
Cherries may also be imported from both New Zealand and the USA. Cherries from New Zealand are permitted into all Australian states, while cherries from specific counties in the states of California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington are permitted into all Australian states except Western Australia.
What happens after the policy determination for USA stone fruit is made?
AQIS will work with the USA quarantine authority, in consultation with Biosecurity Australia, to ensure that the USA develops an operational work plan and implements risk management measures recommended in the final import risk analysis report. Once the quarantine conditions are established, including for Drosophila suzukii, trade may commence, but only after an import permit is granted.
AQIS is responsible for granting import permits. In deciding to grant a permit, consideration must be given to the level of quarantine risk posed by the imports and what conditions should be applied, to limit that risk to one that is acceptably low.
How does Biosecurity Australia consult stakeholders?
The regulated import risk analysis process requires Biosecurity Australia to consult with stakeholders at key stages of the process for specified periods of time. As well as informal consultation at the commencement of the IRA, this includes the public release for comments of a draft report, use of external experts, and opportunity for appeal.
Biosecurity Australia received comments from stakeholders on the draft IRA report which was issued in 2008. These comments were considered in preparing the provisional final IRA report. In addition, the Australian stone fruit industry was consulted on a range of issues, including Drosophila suzukii (or spotted wing drosophila (SWD)).
Further, the provisional final IRA report was open to appeal to the Import Risk Analysis Appeals Panel which is independent of Biosecurity Australia. Stakeholders could lodge appeals on the ground that there was a significant deviation from the process set out in the Import Risk Analysis Handbook 2007 (update 2009) that adversely affected their interests.
Biosecurity Australia has consulted with domestic and international stakeholders throughout the IRA process.
Has industry been consulted in developing the USA stone fruit IRA?
Yes, both formally and informally.
Formally, the industry provided submissions during the consultation period for the draft IRA report.
Informally, Biosecurity Australia has had many face-to-face meetings and teleconferences with the stone fruit industry, including the Summerfruit Biosecurity Consultative Committee, Summerfruit Australia Limited and Low Chill Australia Inc.
The communication between industry and Biosecurity Australia is ongoing.
Spotted wing drosophila
How has Drosophila suzukii been assessed in the final IRA report?
Following the detection of D. suzukii in the USA, the provisional final IRA report was amended to include this pest for assessment. However, given the recent detection of pest in the USA, its significance and the number of fruit import pathways potentially affected, a separate pest-initiated risk analysis (PRA) for all pathways was considered the most appropriate way to progress the management of this pest. Importantly, the addition of D. suzukii to the pest categorisation table, and how the risk of this pest would be assessed, ensured stakeholders were informed on how Biosecurity Australia was dealing with the recent detection of this pest.
What is Australia doing about spotted wing drosophila?
Australia introduced emergency quarantine measures in response to the risks associated with the import of D. suzukii host fruits including cherries, stone fruit, strawberries and table grapes. These measures apply to current imports and those that are imminent as a result of an IRA or policy reviews.
Australia has not received any suitable information from the USA on measures effective at managing the risk of D. suzukii in stone fruit. The importation of stone fruit from the USA will not be permitted until Biosecurity Australia is confident suitable measures are in place to manage D. suzukii.
Once emergency measures are applied, under the SPS Agreement, Australia has an obligation to conduct a PRA to assess the long term risk and introduce any longer term measures. Biosecurity Australia is currently preparing a draft PRA report and this was announced on 31 March 2010. The draft PRA report is expected to be issued later this year and will provide stakeholders with a formal consultation/comment period of 60 days. The PRA report will be used to confirm or modify emergency measures.
Does Australia export stone fruit?
Australian stone fruit is exported to 35 countries. Currently, the largest export market for Australian stone fruit is Hong Kong, followed by the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Europe and Malaysia. Australia can also export cherries to the USA and Korea.