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Western Australia: Ignorant travellers pose billion-dollar risk to economy

Australian quarantine officials are warning that inexperienced travellers are putting Western Australia's $8 billion agriculture industry at risk. The reason: Tonnes of potentially destructive organic produce are still being seized at borders, and more is detected every year. WA's Department of Primary Industries stopped almost 20 tonnes of contraband produce in 2018, some of which contained serious pests.

Quarantine officer Malcolm Harbor, responsible for ensuring anything that poses a bio-risk to the state is detected and destroyed, said the biggest culprits are novice travellers who seem ignorant of WA's strict biosecurity regulations. Potatoes and honey were the most commonly seized item. In 2018, officers seized about 17,500 kilograms of produce and 1,500 kg of honey from 46,000 vehicles.

Mango seed weevil and codling moths, serious pests with the potential to cause widespread destruction for WA producers, were detected at the Kununurra check point near the WA and Northern Territory border. Harbor said some travellers do not heed the warnings despite the risk of facing stiff fines and legal action.

According to, so far in 2019, about 1,600 kgs of produce has been seized from 9,000 vehicles.

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