Dates from the Middle East and North Africa region
A review of the biosecurity import requirements for fresh date fruit (Phoenix dactylifera) from the Middle East and North Africa region
Import conditions for dates from some countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have been published on our Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON) and importers can now apply for import permits for dates from these countries. Please refer to BICON for up-to-date conditions.. The decision to commence imports will be a commercial decision between an exporter in the exporting country and an importer in Australia. The importer must meet the import conditions as set out in BICON.
Before import conditions can be published for other countries in the MENA region, these countries must confirm that they can meet the recommended biosecurity requirements identified in the final report.
We conducted a risk analysis for fresh date fruit from the MENA region in three steps:
- Announced the commencement of the risk analysis, on 24 August 2016, via Biosecurity Advice 2016-29 and an Announcement Information Paper. We conducted a review of scientific knowledge relevant to the groups of pests associated with fresh dates from the MENA region.
- Released the draft report on 31 July 2018, via Biosecurity Advice 2018-17 for a 60 calendar day public consultation period.
- Released the final report on 13 February 2019, via Biosecurity Advice 2019-P02 following consideration of stakeholder comments submitted during the consultation period.
A summary of the risk analysis is available in the factsheet.
This risk analysis is funded through the Australian Government’s Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper to strengthen biosecurity surveillance and analysis.
This risk analysis was conducted to assess market access requests from Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Morocco, Pakistan, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, and was expanded to cover the MENA region.
For the purposes of this analysis, the MENA region is taken to comprise Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, the UAE and Yemen.
The report assesses the biosecurity risk associated with importing fresh date fruit (greater than 30 per cent moisture content) from the MENA region.
The final report recommends that the importation of loose, fresh dates to Australia from all commercial production areas of the MENA region be permitted, subject to a range of biosecurity import requirements.
The final report identifies eight quarantine pests associated with fresh dates from the MENA region which require risk management measures, combined with operational systems, to achieve Australia’s appropriate level of protection. These pests are:
- Oriental fruit fly (Bactrocera dorsalis)
- Peach fruit fly (Bactrocera zonata)
- Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata)
- Spider mite (Eutetranychus palmatus)
- Date dust mite (Oligonychus afrasiaticus)
- Banks grass mite (Oligonychus pratensis)
- Vine mealybug (Planococcus ficus)
- Citriculus mealybug (Pseudococcus cryptus).
The final report recommends risk management measures, combined with operational systems, to reduce the risk of introduction of quarantine pests and to achieve the appropriate level of protection (ALOP) for Australia. These measures include:
- consignment freedom for spider mites and mealybugs verified by pre-export visual inspection, and remedial action if found
- area freedom for fruit flies, which may include specifically identified pest free areas, pest free places of production, and/or pest free production sites, or fruit treatment considered to be effective against all life stages of fruit flies (for example, cold disinfestation treatment or irradiation).
We received eight written technical submissions on the draft report. The changes we made to the report, based on the comments made in the submissions, include:
- amendments to the pest categorisation table (Appendix A) to address some minor issues relating to taxonomy and common names (for example, Oliveonia pauxilla/Corticium pauxilla and Ectomyelois ceratoniae/carob moth);
- amendments to the text in the pest categorisation table (Appendix A) to clarify the pathway association of several arthropods with fresh date fruit, for example the spider mites Oligonychus biharensis and Oligonychus senegalensis, Raoiella indica (red palm mite), Epuraea luteola (pineapple sap beetle), Cicadulina bipunctata (maize orange leafhopper) and Ommatissus lybicus (dubas bug);
- amendments to date production areas and export statistics for Tunisia;
- minor corrections, rewording and editorial changes for consistency, clarity and web-accessibility.
In addition, Appendix B ‘Issues raised in stakeholder comments’, summarising key stakeholder comments and how they were considered in the final report has been added.
If you have difficulty accessing these files, visit web accessibility for assistance.
Submissions from the public
We released a draft report on 31 July 2018 for a 60-day consultation period.
We sought comments from the public on our proposed risk management measures and the technical content of our draft report.
We received eight written technical comments from stakeholders.
We considered all submissions when we drafted the final report.
Appendix B of the final report responds to all comments of a technical nature.
Register as a stakeholder
We use the stakeholder register for distributing biosecurity risk analysis policy information to registered stakeholders. Stakeholders interested in receiving information and updates on biosecurity risk analyses are invited to subscribe via the department’s online subscription service. By subscribing to Biosecurity Risk Analysis Plant, you will receive Biosecurity Advices and other notifications relating to plant biosecurity policy.
Protecting Australia from exotic pests
Australia is free from many of the world’s most damaging plant pests, which are capable of damaging our natural environment, destroying our food production and agriculture industries, and changing our way of life. Australia’s biosecurity system, which includes the risk assessment process, helps protect us from exotic plant pests.
We undertake risk assessments of pests and identify risk management options to address any risks posed by these exotic pests. These measures reflect Australia’s overall approach to the management of biosecurity risk.
Zero risk is impossible. Aiming for zero risk would mean no tourists, no international travel and no imports of any commodities. Australia invests heavily in biosecurity to ensure risks are managed.
Australia exports almost two-thirds of its agricultural produce. The future of our agricultural and food industries, including their capacity to contribute to growth and jobs, depends on Australia’s capacity to maintain its animal and plant health status.
Australia accepts imports only when we are confident the risks of pests and diseases can be managed to achieve an appropriate level of protection for Australia.
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 appropriate level of protection.
Appropriate level of protection
The appropriate level of protection (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 was agreed with all our state and territory governments and recognises that a zero-risk stance is impractical.
The ALOP is a broad objective, and risk management measures are established to achieve that objective.
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.
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.
New scientific information
Scientific information can be provided to us at any time, even after a risk analysis has been completed. We will consider the information provided and review the analysis.
Meeting Australia's food standards
Imported food for human consumption must satisfy Australia’s food standards. Australian law requires that all food, including imported fresh fruit, meets the standards set out in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code and the requirements of the Imported Food Control Act 1992. Each state and territory also has its own food laws that must be met.
Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) is responsible for developing and maintaining the Food Standards Code. The standards apply to all food in Australia, irrespective of whether it is grown domestically or imported.
For more information, stakeholders can email imports or phone 1800 900 090 (option 1, option 1).