Travellers from interstate are reminded to ‘bin’ risk material such as fruit and vegetables before entering the State in order to protect Western Australia’s unique agriculture and food sector from unwanted pests.
The latest figures from the Department of Agriculture and Food’s Quarantine WA service show 51 tonnes of quarantine risk material was intercepted last financial year, including 3.6 tonnes of honey, as part of efforts to prevent the introduction of potentially damaging pests and diseases.
Department Biosecurity and Regulation executive director Kevin Chennell said WA was free of many pests and diseases found in other parts of Australia, with interstate quarantine an important front-line defence.
“We have quarantine officers stationed across the State, from Kununurra in the north to Eucla in the south-east, monitoring road, rail, airplane and mail routes,” Dr Chennell said.
“Bringing in a banana or some honey may seem harmless but it could cause significant impact if it led to an outbreak such as banana freckle or European foulbrood in bees.
“An apple could bring unintended consequences if it was carrying Queensland fruit fly or codling moth, pests not present in WA.”
The department’s ‘Bin it’ campaign, which includes posters and brochures in a dozen languages at WA border entry points, reminds travellers of their responsibilities to declare or bin biosecurity risk materials.
Quarantine risk items include fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, honey, plants and soil. Restrictions also apply to many animals, birds, fish and insects and it is advisable to check for requirements before bringing them into WA.
“Travellers coming into WA must declare items of risk to a quarantine inspector or place them in a Quarantine WA amnesty bin,” Dr Chennell said.
The bulk of intercepts are made at road checkpoints.
During the 2015-2016 financial year, inspectors at the WA/SA road checkpoint inspected almost 78,000 vehicles for quarantine risk material, and intercepted more than 20 tonnes of material.
At the Kununurra checkpoint bordering the Northern Territory, inspectors checked more than 45,000 vehicles and seized 19 tonnes of quarantine risk material.
Quarantine risk material will be seized and penalties may also be applied if these items are not declared to inspectors on arrival in WA.