In June, members of the National Fruit Fly Council met in Loxton, in the South Australian Riverland.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the meeting was delivered in a mix of online and face-to-face formats. Key topics discussed included the South Australia and Western Australia fruit fly eradication efforts, the expected renewal of the Exotic Fruit Flies in the Torres Strait Response Program, export trade issues, the Australian Government’s Smart Fruit Fly Management measure, and the future of the Council.

Representatives from the Riverland Fruit Fly Committee, South Australia’s Riverland Outbreak Response Team and Steritech were invited to a ‘meet and greet’ with the Council. During an information exchange with the Council key issues raised included combatting complacency in the fruit fly fight, the constraints of using SIT in pest free areas, and better understanding of fruit fly risk pathways.

While in the region, the Council also had the privilege of seeing the significant response being coordinated in South Australia’s Riverland to eradicate outbreaks of Queensland Fruit Fly. Eradication efforts across the state are extensive, with approximately 500 personnel involved in the response and regular releases of Sterile Insect Technique occurring in outbreak areas in the Riverland and metropolitan Adelaide. In the Riverland, Council also visited a Costa Group packing shed to learn about the business adjustments being made to manage fruit movement in an outbreak area. It was a sobering reminder of the costs and benefits to the horticulture sector of effective management of fruit fly in Australia.

With current funding ending in October 2021, PHA is working with stakeholders to shape the future direction of the Council. A high-level proposal is being developed for consideration by Hort Innovation, industry groups, and state and territory governments.

The next meeting is scheduled for the end of September.