Thursday 19th Jul, 2018

Thrips threat: DAWR study to inform import conditions

Example of thrips. Public domain
Example of thrips. Public domain

THE Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has released a comprehensive analysis of a significant plant biosecurity risk, with an eye to better inform future plant import conditions.

The final group pest risk analysis (PRA) for thrips and orthotospoviruses, plays an important part in managing the risk of these emerging plant pests arriving in Australia, said the DAWR acting head of biosecurity plant division Robyn Cleland said.

“Thrips are small insects that can cause significant damage to plants. They can transmit orthotospoviruses, which damage a wide range of fruit, vegetable, legume and ornamental crops,” Dr Cleland said.

“They could arrive in Australia on imported plant material and significantly impact our plant health, as well as the productivity and sustainability of our $9bn horticulture industry.”

Dr Cleland said when reviewing or developing new conditions for fresh fruit, vegetable, cut-flower and foliage imports, the PRA could be used to ensure those conditions effectively manage the risk of thrips arriving in Australia.

“The final group PRA considered the biosecurity risks posed by thrips and the emerging risks posed by orthotospoviruses. We can now use that analysis to strengthen our plant biosecurity measures,” Dr Cleland said.

“This will help Australia maintain a high level of biosecurity protection against current and emerging plant biosecurity risks and safeguard our enviable plant health status.”

A Group PRA considers the biosecurity risk posed by groups of pests across numerous import pathways and facilitates a ‘big picture’ understanding of the biosecurity risk profile of major pest groups.

The PRA for thrips and orthotospoviruses is the first group PRA the department has released. It involved robust scientific analysis undertaken by the department and used 18 years’ worth of data from previous pest risk analysis.

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