CAR carrier Orca Ace has been denied entry into Australia, due to fears it could be carrying the dreaded brown marmorated stink bug.
The destructive potential of stink bugs to agriculture and horticulture is well-documented and this is peak-time for the little beasties that are firmly established in parts of Eurasia and North America.
Orca Ace (IMO 9777814) is flagged in Panama and is carrying more than 3500 cars and heavy machinery.
At the time of publication, it is off Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, according to the MarineTraffic website.
Minister for Agriculture, Senator Bridget McKenzie spoke of the bugs’ destructive potential.
“These pests hitchhiked their way into the United States in the late 1990s and are now widely established,” Senator McKenzie said.
“The bugs are also spreading across Europe and are now in places like Italy, Greece, Georgia and Romania.
“In the worst affected regions farmers have lost more than 90% of their crop”
Senator McKenzie said 312 brown marmorated stink bug detections were made on vessels and goods arriving in Australia last year.
“Finding these bugs measuring less than two centimetres on such massive vessels full of cargo is no easy task,” she said.
“So far this year we have had 54 detections of brown marmorated stink bugs and my department works with importers and vessels to manage the risks they pose.
“The current risk aboard the cargo vessel was deemed too great to allow the ship to dock in Australia.”