Biosecurity risks top 60,000 at mail centres in 2020

29 December 2020

2020 has been another busy year for biosecurity, with an increased number of biosecurity risks arriving at Australia’s international mail centres. 

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, David Littleproud said more than 60 thousand mail articles had been intercepted with actionable biosecurity material this year, an increase of approximately 3 thousand articles for the same period in 2019.

“2020 has been a challenging year and a lot of people have turned to online shopping and purchasing goods from overseas due to COVID-19,” Minister Littleproud said.

“As people haven’t been able to travel, we have seen an increase in parcels coming through our international mail centres, including items that could pose a biosecurity risk. 

“Between 1 January and 31 October 2020, 25 million international mail articles were screened for biosecurity risk material.

“Biosecurity officers intercepted over 45 thousand articles containing seeds, equating to 75 per cent of the total interceptions for the period.

“Between 15 October and 24 November 2020 biosecurity officers working in the international mail centres also intercepted 422 articles containing khapra beetle risk commodities. 

“Khapra is a very significant pest to our grain and horticulture industries, and if it were to establish in Australia is could affect the clean and green reputation of our exports. I recently announced $14.5 million over 18 months to strengthen biosecurity measures in response to recent interceptions of this significant pest in non-food goods.

“Over 3000 articles intercepted contained pork or pork-related products this year with 2700 intercepted during the same period last year.

“Pork products could potentially carry African swine fever, a contagious viral disease of domestic and wild pigs which has no vaccine and kills about 80 per cent of the pigs it infects, as well as foot and mouth disease.

“Our biosecurity detector dogs have again been busy at the mail centres, screening more than 12.9 million incoming mail items and intercepting approximately 17000 biosecurity risk items.

“This includes parcels containing eggs, live plants, meat and a range of other risk material. 

“I urge anyone ordering an item containing an animal or plant product online, or having one sent from overseas this Christmas period, to think again.

“We all need to play our part to safeguard our agricultural production and our environment by not having anything sent to Australia that would compromise our biosecurity status.”

For more information about what can and can’t be brought into Australia, visit www.agriculture.gov.au/travelling/bringing-mailing-goods

We wish everyone a biosecurity-safe New Year, https://www.facebook.com/australianbiosec/videos/307574687158004/