Importation of psittacine birds (household pet and aviary birds)

​​​​​The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment has commenced a review for the importation of psittacine birds into Australia. The initial scope included household pet, non-commercial and zoo birds. The scope now includes all aviary psittacine birds (encompassing non-commercial, commercial and zoo).

There are three principal steps in the process.

  1. The department announced the commencement of the review via the release of Biosecurity Advice 2016-14.
  2. The department will prepare a draft report which will be released for a 60-day stakeholder comment period. The draft report will outline the identified biosecurity risks and proposed risk management measures to achieve Australia’s appropriate level of protection (ALOP).
  3. The department will consider stakeholder comments and publish a final report. The final report marks the end of this review process.

Stakeholder consultation

The department will consult with stakeholders when the draft report is released. Stakeholders will be able to make submissions on the draft report for consideration by the department.

For more information, stakeholders can email Animal Biosecurity or register as a stakeholder to be kept informed about this and other risk reviews of interest.

Timing for this process

It is anticipated that the draft report will be available for comment in 2020.

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Update - October 2018

The department has revised the scope of the draft review of importation of psittacine birds. Initially the scope included household pet, non-commercial and zoo psittacines only. After assessing the biosecurity risks posed by psittacine birds, the department has amended the scope to review import conditions for household pet psittacine and aviary psittacine birds as defined below.

  • Household pet psittacine birds: genuine household companion psittacine birds which are not housed outside, not in contact with other birds not intended for export to Australia, and not kept for commercial or recreational breeding purposes.
  • Aviary psittacine birds: captive bred psittacine birds that may be kept indoors, outdoors and/or in a common aviary with other birds. This category includes birds held for hobby purposes or exhibition, in zoos, wildlife parks and conservation programs as well as birds resident in breeding centres and private collections. This category also includes pet birds purchased from overseas.

The amendment to scope means that the review will consider whether a safe import pathway can be developed for both non-commercial and commercial imports of psittacine birds. If the review recommends that imports can commence, importers should be aware that the Department of the Environment and Energy will manage and restrict trade on a number of psittacine species under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Update - June 2018

The department is progressing preparation of the draft report for the review of importation of psittacine birds (household pet, non-commercial and zoo). The assessment has been complex for several reasons, outlined below, resulting in a minor delay to the anticipated release of the draft report.

The review has considered 60 pests and diseases of psittacine birds and retained 16 of these for further assessment. Of these, at least half have been found to pose an unacceptable biosecurity risk to Australia. The department is considering what risk management measures can be implemented for these pests and diseases to reduce the biosecurity risks to an acceptably low level.

Risk management measures may include pre-export and post-arrival quarantine, testing, treatments and inspections. A number of diseases of biosecurity concern can be carried by psittacine birds that appear to be healthy, emphasising the need to determine suitable risk management measures. Any proposed measures also need to be practically and financially feasible for exporters, importers and the department.

The assessment is further complicated by the need to consider potential biosecurity impacts on a range of exposure groups including captive birds, Australia’s unique wild bird populations, Australian poultry industries and humans.

Due to the complexities of the assessment and based on progress to date, the department expects to release the draft report for public comment in 2019.

Update - October 2017

The department is currently preparing the draft report for the review of importation of psittacine birds (household pet, non-commercial and zoo). Work on the draft document is often the most lengthy stage of a review as most of the research is done during this stage. This is necessary to determine what agents pose a risk to Australia and if/how these risks can be managed to ensure that the risk of introducing an exotic disease to Australia is acceptably low.

The time required to complete a review depends largely on the complexity of assessment. For this review a large number of diseases require assessment and many of the assessments are complex because the department needs to consider impacts on pet birds, Australia’s unique wild bird populations and Australia’s poultry industries.

Based on progress to date, the department expects to release the draft review for public comment in the second half of 2018.

Rationale for the review

The department commenced this review in response to requests from pet psittacine bird owners, hobbyists and the Australian zoo community. The review will identify and recommend appropriate risk mitigation requirements where available for the importation of household pet, non-commercial and zoo psittacine birds into Australia.

Review of psittacine bird import requirements

A review of biosecurity import requirements is a process used by the department to consider an import proposal when the potential quarantine pests and diseases of concern identified are the same as or similar to quarantine pests and diseases for which import conditions currently exist.

The analysis considers the biosecurity risks of pests and diseases associated with the proposed import along with any measures that could address the risks.

Conditions for the importation of psittacine birds from all countries were suspended in 1995, conditions for the importation of pet birds from New Zealand remain in force. Therefore, the Importation of psittacine birds (Household pet and non-commercial) – Draft Review will be progressed as a review of suspended and existing conditions.

This is consistent with the Biosecurity Act 2015 and the Biosecurity Import Risk Analysis Guidelines 2016.

Protecting Australia from exotic pests and diseases

Australia's biosecurity system protects our unique environment and agricultural sector and supports our reputation as a safe and reliable trading nation. This has significant economic, environmental and community benefits for all Australians.

The term ‘biosecurity risk’ is used to describe the combination of the likelihood and the consequences of a pest or disease of biosecurity concern entering, establishing and spreading in Australia.

The department undertakes comprehensive risk analyses of potential biosecurity risks associated with the import of animals, plants or other goods into Australia and recommends risk management options to address these risks. Any recommended measures will reflect Australia’s overall approach to the management of biosecurity risk.

Zero risk is impossible; it would mean no tourists, no international travel and no imports of any commodities. Australia invests heavily in biosecurity to ensure risks are managed to the lowest possible level.

Australia exports almost two thirds of its agricultural produce. The future of our agriculture and food industries, including their capacity to contribute to growth and jobs, depends on Australia’s capacity to maintain a good plant and animal health status.

Australia accepts imports only when we are confident the risks of pests and diseases can be managed to achieve the appropriate level of protection (ALOP) for Australia.

Considerations during a review of biosecurity import requirements

International obligations

All World Trade Organization (WTO) members are signatories to the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (the SPS Agreement), under which they have both rights and obligations.

The basic obligations of the SPS Agreement are that SPS measures must:

  • be based on a risk assessment appropriate to the circumstances or drawn from standards developed by the World Organisation for Animal Health and the International Plant Protection Convention
  • only be applied to the extent necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health
  • be based on science
  • not arbitrarily or unjustifiably discriminate between WTO members, or be a disguised restriction on trade.

Under the SPS Agreement, each WTO Member is entitled to maintain a level of protection it considers appropriate to protect human, animal or plant life or health within its territory – in other words, its ALOP.

Appropriate level of protection

The ALOP for Australia is defined in the Biosecurity Act 2015 as: a high level of sanitary and phytosanitary protection aimed at reducing biosecurity risks to very low, but not to zero.

This definition has been reached with the agreement of all state and territory governments and recognises that a zero risk stance is impractical because this would mean Australia would have no tourists, no international travel and no imports.

The ALOP is a broad objective, and risk management measures are established to achieve that objective.

New scientific information

The department bases its risk analyses on available information and existing science. New scientific information can be provided to the department at any time, including after a risk analysis has been completed. The department will consider the information provided and may amend the import conditions if deemed necessary to maintain Australia’s ALOP.

Last reviewed: 27 February 2020
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