North on the front line against pests and diseases

1 August 2021
  • Northern islands are close to areas containing serious pests and diseases that have not reached Australian mainland.
  • A new five-year response plan protects industries and communities from the risk of exotic fruit flies entering the mainland through Torres Strait.

Northern Australia is on the frontline of biosecurity to protect Australia from the threat of serious pests and diseases posed by proximity to our northern neighbours.

Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia David Littleproud said serious pests like exotic fruit flies have the potential to enter the north.

“Strong Torres Strait biosecurity is important in protecting Australia,” Minister Littleproud said.

“Risk pathways for pests like exotic fruit flies include traditional trade between Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Torres Strait, and natural pathways such as wind, tide and animal migration.

“The Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy (NAQS) undertake a range of activities to manage the risk of pests like exotic fruit fly.

“The nation’s most northern fruit fly traps only 6 km from PNG, located on Boigu Island in Torres Strait, play a vital role in our fruit fly warning system.

“Through strong collaboration between NAQS, the Queensland government and the Torres Strait Island community, the successful detection and eradication program keeps exotic fruit fly from establishing in Torres Strait and the mainland.

“A new five-year national cost shared response plan will continue to support this work by seasonally eradicating the three exotic fruit fly species that enter the Torres Strait.  

“The eradication of exotic papaya fruit fly in 1995 around Cairns cost $38 million at the time and resulted in bans on exports.

“The cost would likely be doubled in todays’ money.

“Through monitoring and surveillance my department and its collaborators also work to protect Australia from other serious pests and diseases right on our doorstep in PNG, such as African swine fever.

“I acknowledge our strong partnerships with state governments, industry and communities to protect northern Australia and its unique environment from incursion of exotic fruit fly and other exotic pests and diseases.”

For further information on the Torres Strait Exotic Fruit Fly Eradication Program visit here.

For our work to keep African swine fever out of Australia visit here