Tasmania looses pest free area recognition

Tasmanian producers nervous over fruit fly detection

Tasmania’s fruit and vegetable producers are becoming increasingly nervous with the larvae of the Queensland Fruit Fly (QFF) recently detected in a backyard near the north-west city of Devonport.

This is the first time QFF has been discovered on the Tasmanian mainland since 2011 with a 15km control area now imposed around the site at Spreyton.

The discovery follows three recent reports of detections in backyard apricot trees on Flinders Island in the Bass Strait last week. Spreyton is a key production area for apples and cherries while the 15km control area covers vineyards, large berry farms and tomato producers.

“Clearly we are facing a very serious issue in respect to the detection of fruit fly,” Minister for Primary Industries, Jeremy Rockliff, said following a briefing by Biosecurity Tasmania staff at their incident room in northern Tasmania.

“Our biosecurity and pest free and disease free status is crucial. “

“There are two key priorities for us – firstly to contain and eradicate fruit fly. The second key area is working hard to maintain the market access.”

Minister Rockcliff said no fruit flies or larvae have been detected on any commercial farm in the State at this stage.

He commended the members of the public who raised the alarm after sighting the larvae both on Flinders Island and at Spreyton.

President of Fruit Growers Tasmania, Nic Hansen, said the detections are very concerning.

“I have been on Flinders Island for the past two days and have seen first-hand the work of Biosecurity Tasmania. We are certainly supportive of the efforts being undertaken to detect and eradicate fruit fly.”

“The Government is throwing every resource at this incident and have been very transparent with the information provided to us.”

Mr Hansen said given the lack of adult flies in the traps, it is possible the larvae was produced by a none-viable density.

Later today the Commonwealth Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources withdrew the State’s pest free area recognition with individual property freedom certification now required.

Author: Phil Pyke

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