Since the early days of trade, invasive pests and diseases have been hitching rides to foreign lands. They’ve arrived in many shapes and forms, but one thing has remained consistent. Their destruction of our natural environment and the businesses that rely upon it.
The federal government is responsible for managing the risk of disease entering into Australia through contaminated food products. However, if the mechanisms at the border fail, the responsibility for detection falls upon the broader community.
Professional fishers enter our marine ecosystem more frequently than any other group in our community. Their profession demands and intimate understanding of the natural environment and therefore, they notice subtle changes others would miss.
Similarly, post-harvest workers scrutinise product across species and across fisheries. Giving them a broad overview of what is occurring in the environment. The seafood industries awareness and reporting is crucial to early detection and response.
If you see a suspected marine pest, or a sick a diseased marine animal. Take a photo, collect a sample and refrigerate. Report it by calling your state or territory biosecurity agency.
The state or territory government is responsive for disease preparedness through biosecurity planning and policy. They will test provided samples and initiate an investigation when necessary. The federal government will coordinate a response if the incursion occurs in more than one state or territory.
Vigilance is paramount. Asian green mussels were discovered on an illegal fishing vessel brought into Cairns Harbour. Their spread to prevent by early detection and eradication.
During a disease response a zone will be defined to minimize the risk of people unknowingly spreading the incursion. If eradication is feasible a program may commence to utterly destroy and remove all traces of the incursion. If eradication fails, the invasive organism will be contained, to prevent of slow the spread.
Any effort to contain a biosecurity threat relies on early detection.
Success ultimately requires the involvement of the community, scientists, government and industry. Through acknowledging this shared responsibility, we are doing our best to protect our environment and the businesses that rely upon it.
Biosecurity is everyone’s business.
For biosecurity information visit biosecurity.gov.au