Disruption warnings on BMSB threat to agriculture

Quarantine gears up as stink bug season looms and logistics concerns rise

Disruption warnings on BMSB threat to agriculture
BMSBs on a leaf


Australia’s trade-exposed transport and logistics sector and the federal government are gearing up for an expensive and disruptive eight-month brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) season, starting just as the peak transport season gets underway in the lead-up to Christmas.

The Australian Department of Agriculture (DOA) biosecurity officers have been working with researchers at the University of New England to retrain biosecurity detector dogs in an effort to sharpen the government’s response to the growing agricultural threat that has a vector into the country through norther hemisphere cargo and containers.

"If established here, BMSB could severely impact our agricultural industries as they feed on, and severely damage, fruit and vegetable crops, rendering them unsellable or reducing production yields," the department says.

"Adult BMSB can also be a nuisance, entering vehicles, homes and factories en masse for shelter over winter."

Biosecurity Detector Dog Program head Jessica Mitchell says the department is "looking to modernise its existing detector dog capabilities to combat the growing threat" of exotic plant pests, including BMSB.

But the increased efforts elsewhere will come at a cost to imported goods, Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA) warns, with container logistics, in particular, facing disruptive issues beyond its control and noting that transport operators are reviewing their transport cost and container detention liability policies.

"Additional costs caused by delays cannot be absorbed fully by transport operators, nor can unrealistic container detention claims due to the level of delays in empty import container de-hire which are likely to occur again this peak season," it says.

"With the expansion of the number of target risk countries for BMSB mandatory risk intervention, the Department of Agriculture has estimated a 12% to 15% increase in containerised cargoes which will be subjected to BMSB seasonal measures," it states in a notice to industry.

It is also concerned that there are presently fewer approved off-shore treatment providers this year, and expects the number of containers needing on-shore fumigation treatment intervention in Australia to rise.  

Read how ACFS and FTA linked in WA on the stink bug, here

The issue, a live one in New Zealand, which has just employed more than 100 new quarantine officers, and with international logistics providers.

C H Robinson, one of the world’s largest third-party logistics (3PL) providers, has highlighted the importance of heeding government warnings that Australian importers need to increase vigilance against the BMSB, which has "severely impacted agriculture in the northern hemisphere".

It urges importers to familiarise themselves with the necessary requirements.

"Many of the major importers are aware of the requirements, but we advise all importers including infrequent users of international cargo services, to seek professional assistance if they are unsure of their responsibilities when it comes to protecting against the potential BMSB infestation," C H Robinson vice president, Oceania Andrew Coldrey says.

"This increased vigilance comes at a cost in both time and charges.

"Importers should be aware that delays at international entry points are being experienced already during the heightened inspections for the stink bug."

Coldrey explains that specified heat treatment and fumigation measures apply to certain goods manufactured in or shipped from target risk countries, and/or vessels that berth at, load or trans-ship from target risk countries from September 1, 2019, and that arrive in Australian territory by May 31, 2020.


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