HEIGHTENED surveillance of ro-ro ships is expected next summer under Department of Agriculture efforts to prevent a brown marmorated stink bug outbreak in Australia.

The department has announced a series of measures aimed at ensuring the foul critters do not gain a toehold.

It is proposed heightened surveillance on all ro-ro and general cargo vessels will continue to be done via additional pre-arrival reporting with a BMSB questionnaire and daily checks by vessel masters.

All ro-ro vessels that have also berthed at, or carried cargo loaded in target risk countries (including Japan) will be required to undergo a mandatory seasonal pest inspection on arrival in Australia.

“The department is working to develop policies to allow a trial by invitation, for vessel operators to have eligible vessels exempted from mandatory SP inspection for the 2019–20 season,” the department said in a statement.

The upcoming 2019-2020 season is to include an expanded list of target risk countries, with 23 added, taking the total number to 32.

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The list is:

United States of America, Czech Republic, France, Canada, Georgia, Russia, Albania, Germany, Serbia, Andorra, Greece, Slovakia, Armenia, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Azerbaijan, Kosovo, Luxembourg, Belgium, Liechtenstein, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Spain, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Turkey, Croatia, Netherlands.

Japan is also to come under heightened vessel surveillance.

Freight and Trade Alliance border and biosecurity advocate Andrew Crawford said the other significant difference for next season could be the introduction of mandatory offshore treatment of target high risk goods shipped in sealed six-sided containers for LCL and FAK shipments.

“This was the Department’s preferred position for 2018/19 and FTA and others advocated against this due to several commercial considerations,” Mr Crawford said.

“FTA will continue to work with the department to tease out the detail of this through ongoing consultation and the information sessions that Department is currently conducting.”

Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia regional manager for Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, Zoran Kostadinoski said the additional target high risk countries for 2019-2020, going from 9 to 32 in total, plus heightened vessel surveillance for Japan would likely impact industry.

The other change, he said, was the proposal for mandatory offshore treatment for less than container load consignments and freight of all kinds containers of target high risk goods.

“The CBFCA is concerned the increased volume will further impact on DAWR’s ability to meet the client service standards and result in ongoing delays and costs to industry,” Mr Kostadinoski said.

Further coverage of BMSB and the Biosecurity Levy will be included in the May print edition of Daily Cargo News.

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