A STINK-bug impacted ro-ro vessel was last week directed to leave Australian waters as authorities battle to keep the insects out of the country.

MV Thalatta (IMO 9702455), a Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ocean vessel flagged in Malta, was the third ship expelled from Australian seas this stink bug season.

According to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources the Thalatta arrived off Fremantle carrying cargo loaded in Germany, Belgium, Spain and South Africa.

The cargo was mostly vehicles and some machinery with about 50% of the cargo having been treated for stink bugs before loading.

Further fogging while at anchor off Fremantle resulted in the discovery of further dead stink bugs with the department deciding there was a likelihood of a larger undetected residual population on board.

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MV Thalatta is currently in Indonesian waters, the MarineTraffic website showing it as sailing near the Indonesian islands of Bali and Lombok.

In a statement sent to DCN, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ocean said it worked closely with Australian authorities on biosecurity and “takes its responsibilities to ensure that brown marmorated stink bugs are not carried to Australia extremely seriously”.

“We are very concerned about the presence of bugs in cargo on the vessel Thalatta, especially as all cargo from regulated countries has been certified as treated in line with Department of Agriculture & Water Resources  requirements,” the statement read.

“We regret that Thalatta has been instructed to leave Australian waters. This will seriously inconvenience customers waiting for cargo, adding to their costs and delaying delivery.”

According to WWO, BMSB on vessels was a problem that affected businesses that were key to the Australian economy, such as mining, farming and the auto industry.

“WW Ocean is committed to maintaining the highest standards of biosecurity and is working with other shipping companies and industry associations to persuade the government to introduce clear, workable regulation that is consistent between Australian and New Zealand and applies to all countries where BMSB are present,” WWO stated.

Thalatta is proceeding to Singapore where all cargo can be discharged and treated with a combination of insecticide and exposure to warmer temperatures.

“Cargo will then be returned to Australia and delivered to customers as soon as possible, whilst ensuring biosecurity requirements are not compromised,” WWO stated.

Other vessels to have been expelled from Australia this BMSB this season have been the Nigerian-flagged Triumph in November and the Panama-flagged Morning Composer in December.

According to the department, brown marmorated stink bugs “pose a high biosecurity risk to Australia because of their tendency to hitchhike, highly mobile nature and the lack of effective lures”.

“If it established in Australia, this pest would be extremely difficult and expensive to manage, partly due to its broad host range,” the Department of Agriculture stated on its website.

“Preventing an incursion in the first place is a high priority for government and industry.”

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