16 September 2019

Australia’s effort to manage fruit flies nationally has been bolstered with the extension of funding for the National Fruit Fly Council, the appointment of a new manager and a planned update of the National Fruit Fly Strategy.

Fruit flies threaten a substantial portion of Australia’s $11.31 billion horticulture sector and can be a major constraint to domestic and international trade. Of concern are endemic species such as Mediterranean fruit fly and Queensland fruit fly, and exotic species such as Oriental fruit fly and spotted wing drosophila.

“Having a strong nationally coordinated fruit fly system is very important to ensure growers and governments have the tools to understand and manage the fruit fly threat, and to eradicate outbreaks,” said Executive Director and CEO of Plant Health Australia Greg Fraser.

The National Fruit Fly Council, funded by states and territories and Hort Innovation, brings together industry and government representatives to discuss and advise on nationally significant issues related to the control of fruit flies. It oversees implementation of the National Fruit Fly Strategy that drives the delivery of a cost-effective, coordinated and sustainable approach to managing fruit flies.

The National Fruit Fly Council met in Adelaide
on 10-11 September 2019.

Chair Jon Durham said the Council is looking forward to continuing their efforts to improve the national management of fruit flies with the extension to funding for three years and employment as Christina Cook as manager as there is still much work to do. 

“Having a fulltime time role to engage with all the partners involved – the Australian and State and Territory governments, Hort Innovation and industry –is very beneficial,” he said.

“We acknowledge the work of the previous Manager of the National Fruit Fly Council, Darryl Barbour, who brought a high level of expertise to the role for three years, and we look forward to Christina maintaining the level of enthusiasm and focus.”

Manger of the National Fruit Fly Council Christina Cook

Christina Cook is employed by Plant Health Australia and based in South Australia. In her previous role with Primary Industries and Regions South Australia she supported horticulture industries to improve production and market access.

Christina helped strengthen and promote South Australia’s fruit fly pest freedom, assisted regulators and industries to prepare for pest incursions and promoted on-farm biosecurity practices amongst growers.

Hort Innovation Research and Development Manager Penny Measham said the corporation was supportive of the Council’s work and welcomed Ms Cook to the role of manager.

“It is important that horticultural industries are involved in the process to build a unified national approach to the management of fruit fly,” she said.

“We are investing our time and resources into supporting the council, which is focussed on rolling out more regional workshops so that we can obtain meaningful and impact driven outcomes for industry.

“Our commitment to supporting all of our fruit fly affected industries will not waiver, and that is reflected in the collaborative work we are doing as part of this national initiative.”

The National Fruit Fly Council met in South Australia on 10-11 September 2019, followed by a visit to the Sterile Insect Technique Plus (SITPlus) Program facility and Sundrop tomato production facility in Port Augusta on 12 September. See attached images and captions below.

1 ABARES Horticulture Outlook March 2019