While Australia is fortunate to be free of many of the fruit fly species that occur in other parts of the world, there are ways they can gain entry, causing a major disruption to our trade in horticultural products.
Oriental fruit fly
In 1995, the Oriental fruit fly (previously known as Asian papaya fruit fly) was detected near Cairns, Queensland. Governments and industries spent $36m to eradicate this species, while industries suffered an estimated $100m impact due to additional quarantine treatments and lost trade opportunities.
Keeping the Oriental fruit fly and its closely related species out of Australia is vital to ensure the safety of our horticultural industries.
Entry threats and how we address them
One of the biggest threats is travellers bringing fruits and vegetables into Australia in checked baggage or hand luggage.
Australia’s stringent biosecurity system works to address this risk through a combination of public awareness, incoming passenger declarations and inspections at the border.
Another potential threat is direct migration from other countries. Our geographical isolation means that this risk is relatively low, as only one possible route for migration is through the relatively narrow stretch of water that separates Australia’s Cape York from Papua New Guinea. This area of Torres Strait is just 150km across and is populated by numerous islands.
A combination of strong seasonal winds and human-assisted movement could assist exotic fruit flies spread to Australia. The numerous islands in Torres Strait could also allow fruit flies to establish and progressively “island hop” to Australia.
To address this risk, the Australian Government and Queensland government operate an extensive detection and response system in Torres Strait to detect and eradicate any fruit fly populations before they can reach Australia. This long-term strategy involves fruit fly monitoring traps, the application of protein bait sprays and male annihilation blocks.
Across the north of Australia, the Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy also has fruit fly monitoring arrangements and restrictions on the movement of fruits and vegetables and other materials that could pose a biosecurity risk.
How you can help
If you see anything unusual you should report it to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.
If you receive imported goods or work with imported products, you can help protect Australia from exotic fruit flies and other pests.
If you see fruit with maggots or any unusual pests, secure the goods and report it immediately to the Department of Agriculture via the SEE. SECURE. REPORT. Hotline on 1800 798 636.