Review of Nursery Stock Import Conditions
Medium Risk Nursery Stock (MRNS) Review (27/08/12)
Imported nursery stock has the capacity to introduce exotic plant pests and diseases into Australia. Current policy for imported nursery stock is to apply quarantine requirements based on the perceived health risk across three levels: high, medium and low.
Most nursery stock entering Australia requires 100% inspection at the border, mandatory treatment for insect pests followed by a period of growth in post entry quarantine to screen for diseases. Plants categorised as “Medium Risk” are permitted to undergo post entry quarantine for a minimum of 3 months in privately operated post entry quarantine facilities, known as quarantine approved premises (QAPs).
The large majority of plants in the medium risk category are ornamentals such as orchids, bromeliads, yuccas and anthuriums.
In recent years there has been an increase in the number of large volume commercial consignments of nursery stock being imported for direct retail sale. Current import figures indicate that approximately 75% of MRNS arrives in consignments in excess of 10,000 plants, and 22% are over 50,000. Consignments over 1000 plants in volume represent 98% of all NS material entering Australia. This trend towards large volume consignments prompted the need to review whether current policy and operational procedures are the most effective and efficient way to manage the biosecurity risks.
Scope of Review
The review encompasses the whole import pathway from pre-border, at the border, and post border activities and processes. Pre-border processes include management of risk assessments and assigning nursery stock to the appropriate risk category. At the border processes include management of entry processing, nursery stock officer training and disease detection methods ending with post entry quarantine management and release mechanisms. Post border processes include emergency response protocols and preparedness policies.
Due to the broad scope the review has been split into smaller sub-projects. To date the review of off-shore and on-arrival processes including inspections, treatment and transport have been completed.
Outcomes/Actions to date
Introduction of mandatory Phytosanitary certification for all live plant consignments (including tissue cultures) imported into Australia. A Phytosanitary certificate ensures that a competent authority has examined the plants before export and certified the plants to be free of quarantine risks. This was introduced to address an increase in the number of pests and pathogens detected on nursery stock at border inspections and during growth in post entry quarantine.
Amendment of MRNS cases on ICON (the Import Conditions Database) to:
clarify quarantine procedures and options for importers when disease symptoms or nematodes are intercepted in a consignment
address the increased biosecurity risk posed by large dimension nursery stock due to internal feeding pests and inspection difficulty
address Work Health and Safety (WHS) concerns and manage insect risks by clarifying packaging requirements and limiting box/carton size to 20kg
manage insect risk by moving Full Container Load consignments (if correctly certified) to the appropriate quarantine approved premises prior to unpacking and inspection
Interception data of MRNS is being assessed to determine failure rates and diseases/pests found in consignments. Results from this analysis may be used to identify more efficient, risk-focussed inspection regimes for some MRNS genera
DAFF Biosecurity is working with industry to identify and accredit high health sources of various species. Where these sources can demonstrate they provide a low quarantine risk, changed permit and post-entry procedures may be introduced in response.
A formalised Import Notification process has been developed for MRNS. This requires a Notice of Importation (NOI) form to be lodged with the relevant regional office detailing the consignments size and the Quarantine Approved Premises (QAP) where plants will undergo post entry quarantine. For non-Full Container Load (non-FCL) consignments this form needs to be submitted 7 days prior to import. For Full Container Load (FCL) consignments this form needs to be submitted prior to shipment.
A trial is currently being undertaken of a sample based inspection regime for on arrival inspections of selected MRNS genera. The following genera were selected for the trial as data analysis has shown they have a low rate of pest and disease interceptions:
- Phalaenopsis spp.
- Dendrobium spp.
- Sanseveria spp.
- Gymnocalycium spp. grafted to Hylocerus spp.
The trial uses internationally accepted sampling methods and is supported by international standards developed for use by National Plant Protection Organisations (NPPOs). Subject to a review of the trial results, the trial may be extended to cover additional genera.
Future reforms/upcoming changes
If specific biosecurity risks are identified by DAFF in the MRNS import pathway, specific additional declarations to Phytosanitary certificates may be introduced in the future
To ensure consistency in the inspection process across all regions Nursery Stock instructional material developed by individual regions is being consolidated into a national Nursery Stock Inspection Manual
For further information please contact the Plant Quarantine Program by telephone on (02) 6272 3917.
27 Aug 2012