Managing pests

Managing pests offshore

To ensure Australia’s biosecurity is protected, all consignments of fresh cut flowers and foliage must be endorsed by the National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) of the exporting country as being free of live pests of biosecurity concern.

Australia accepts several methods for the offshore management of live arthropod pests of biosecurity concern:

Mandatory fumigation for imported Malaysian chrysanthemums

Due to the increasing risk of the plant pest Liriomyza huidobrensis, all consignments of Malaysian cut chrysanthemums must now be fumigated with methyl bromide before export to Australia. See our industry advice notice for more information.

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NPPO-approved systems approach for the import of cut flowers to Australia

A systems approach is a series of integrated pest management measures applied at different points in the supply chain. An NPPO-approved systems approach offers an alternative to treatments such as methyl bromide fumigation.

The NPPO of the exporting country must approve and certify the systems approach. Each consignment prepared for export under a systems approach must be inspected by the NPPO of the exporting country to verify that no quarantine pests are present.

The NPPO must sample and inspect consignments for live quarantine pests and ensure that it meets Australia’s import conditions. Consignments meeting the requirements of the NPPO approved systems approach must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate with the following additional declaration:

“This consignment was produced and prepared for export by [insert name of approved growers and/or packing houses] under an NPPO approved systems approach and was inspected and found free from live quarantine pests.”

If live quarantine pests are detected, a phytosanitary certificate should not be issued.

Example of a systems approach

The following diagram shows how a systems approach could be used to produce pest free cut flowers and foliage for export to Australia. Not all steps may be required, but where a step is critical to managing a quarantine pest to achieve Australia’s import requirements, the NPPO must confirm that these critical controls have been applied.

Image showing the steps in a systems approach to manage plant pests

Measures that can be used as part of a systems approach

Under a systems approach various measures might be put in place at both production and post-harvest stages.

  • Site management
  • Sanitation and hygiene
  • Pest free production sites
  • Production inputs
  • Pest free propagation material
  • Clean growing media
  • Pest monitoring e.g. visual examination and trapping
  • Pest control
    • Pesticides e.g. chemical and organic (oils, soaps, plant extracts)
    • Physical e.g. enclosed production systems such as glasshouses and screen houses
    • Cultural e.g. field hygiene and sanitation, planting densities
    • Mechanical e.g. use of sticky traps
    • Biological e.g. release of predators to suppress pest populations.
  • Sorting and grading
  • Post-harvest treatments e.g. chemical, physical, controlled atmosphere
  • Hygiene and sanitation of packing facilities
  • Temperature control during the packing process
  • Packing in pest proof containers to prevent re-infestation
  • Inspection to verify freedom form live quarantine pests.

Pre-shipment methyl bromide fumigation

Consignments fumigated in accordance with the department’s requirements must be accompanied by a Phytosanitary Certificate AND attached with the relevant fumigation certificate. For further details see the relevant conditions for your product as outlined in BICON.

If methyl bromide is banned in the country of export, a systems approach or alternative treatments should be used to manage pests on flowers or foliage intended for Australia.

NPPO-approved alternative pre-shipment treatments

Australia will accept any treatments approved by the NPPO of the exporting country that are applied to kill pests on cut flowers for export to Australia. The department does not need to approve the treatment prior to its use unless the NPPO wishes to apply alternative treatments designed only to achieve pest sterility, such as irradiation.

The NPPO of the exporting country must:

  • approve and certify the treatment on a phytosanitary certificate
  • inspect each treated consignment to verify freedom of live pests of biosecurity concern.

Possible alternative treatments

Various countries are undertaking research on development of alternative treatments to methyl bromide to treat cut flowers. One example is low temperature phosphine fumigation. The following papers outline some of the research into the effects of phosphine on insect pests and flower quality:

Import permits

Import permits help reduce the biosecurity risk to Australia by requiring that an importer installs additional pest management controls in their supply chain in the exporting country. 

We will only grant a permit where we can see the importer has introduced additional measures to improve the pre-export management of pests.  

If at a later stage, the country makes improvements to its pest management system, their NPPO may apply to have the requirement for import permits lifted. We may need to undertake an in-country audit as part of our assessment. If the application is approved, import permits would no longer be required for that country.

Apply for a permit

An import permit is required to import cut flowers and foliage produced using a systems approach from Colombia, Ecuador and Kenya.

Flowers produced and treated using methyl bromide fumigation or an alternative treatment, approved by the country’s National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) do not require a permit to be imported into Australia.

See advice about the requirement for import permits for Kenya, Colombia and Ecuador.

Only an importer can apply for a permit.

To apply for a single-country import permit:

  1. check the conditions required to import using systems approach for Colombia, Ecuador or Kenya in BICON to ensure you can meet these requirements before applying for a permit
  2. develop a supply chain management system (SCMS) for each country you import from. The SCMS must include details of:
    • the scope of activities – you’ll need to provide details of the supply chain and all parties involved in the biosecurity risk management prior to export, and the control measures to be performed across the pre-export supply chain (i.e. additional post-harvest inspections)
    • the implementation – you’ll need to explain how you will implement the control measures across the supply chain to manage the biosecurity risk (i.e. through commercial contracts or supply chain agreements)

Your proposed risk management controls must not include those already required by the exporting country’s NPPO. They must be additional measures you plan to use.

See our guidance document for more information on what you need to include in a SCMS.

  1. register for a BICON account if you don’t already have one
  2. select the ‘apply now’ button to start your application. You will then be required to complete an application form and attach the completed SCMS and other required documents. You can apply for permits for all three countries within the one application by copying or adding extra “commodities” to your application in BICON.

When we receive your application, we will:

  • check all information is supplied
  • assess the application, including your SCMS and other documents
  • request any further information required for our assessment
  • advise you of the outcome of our assessment
  • if the outcome is to grant a permit, we will provide a draft copy of the permit with the proposed conditions for your review before we issue the permit.

We will only assess your application when you have supplied all required information.

The permit will initially be valid for four months. We may extend the validity of subsequent permits for importers with low rates of non-compliance.

Consignments arriving without a valid permit will not be allowed entry to Australia.

You are encouraged to send shipments that are free from live pests to avoid delays at the border and to remain compliant with the conditions of the permit.

We will only agree to issue further permits if we can see that compliance is improving, and the number of shipments arriving with live pests of biosecurity concern under the current permits is reducing.

We may require you to modify your supply chain control measures before granting the further permit.

Managing pests and other biosecurity risk material onshore

Australia’s import conditions require that the biosecurity risks of cut flowers and foliage are appropriately reduced offshore before they are sent to Australia.

On arrival in Australia, we will inspect your consignment:

  • for live pests of biosecurity concern and other biosecurity risk material such as soil
  • to ensure it meets Australia’s import conditions.

When we find live pests or other biosecurity risk material

If our biosecurity officers find live pests or other biosecurity risk material on your consignment, they will:

  • immediately segregate the consignment and contain the pests
  • take samples of the live pests or biosecurity risk materials for identification at our laboratory.

You will be notified of the laboratory results determining whether the pests or other biosecurity risk material is of biosecurity concern.

See our guide to interpreting our pest identification reports.

If the live pests or other biosecurity risk material is found not of biosecurity concern, your consignment will be permitted for release into the market.

If live pests or biosecurity risk material is found, we will direct the consignment for remedial treatment, destruction or export. Please note that we no longer offer voluntary fumigation under the import conditions.

Remedial treatment can include methyl bromide fumigation or reconditioning for non-arthropod risks. The costs of remedial treatment are borne by the importer.

If you do not wish to have your consignment undergo remedial treatment, you will have the option to either destroy or re-export your consignment.

Affected consignments will remain segregated in a secure facility while investigations are carried out. This may include being stored in a cold room at 10oC or below, or within a fumigation enclosure.

We do not offer compensation for goods which become unsellable whilst waiting for scientific assessment.

When we find dead pests

No action will be taken on the consignment if dead pests are found. We will only take action if the pests are live and are of biosecurity concern, or if we find any other biosecurity concerns within the consignment.

More information

Read about the other conditions that must be satisfied to import fresh cut flowers and foliage into Australia.

Also see:

Need help?

Email the Imports team or call 1800 900 090.

Last reviewed: 29 September 2020
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