A $3.45 million project is underway to breed sterile flies in a bid to eradicate sheep blowfly from Kangaroo Island within four years.
A cost benefit analysis has shown eradicating sheep blowfly on Kangaroo Island could save producers an estimated $88 million over 25 years.
The project will see specially bred sterile male flies reared, x-ray sterilised and then released on the island to compete with wild males to mate with wild female flies. This mating process means no fertile eggs are produced, resulting in suppression or eradication of the sheep blowfly.
Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development David Basham said the initial sterile fly releases are expected to be in late 2022.
“The 18-month pilot project will establish the first ever mobile facility for rearing sterile Sheep Blowfly and deliver the first large scale release of sterile Sheep Blowfly,” said Minister Basham.
“The initial releases would involve about six million flies per week focussing on the east side of Kangaroo Island, including Penneshaw and Dudley Peninsula, covering about 650 square kilometres.
“Eradicating sheep blowfly form Kangaroo Island would see wool and sheep meat producers gain market access and economic advantage.
“That is without counting the increase in production and possible market premium for wool and meat.
“The eradication of blowflies from Kangaroo Island would further reinforce the area’s clean, green reputation across the world.
“The project team are finalising the design of a mobile facility and the site on Kangaroo Island.”
This $3.45 million project has been made possible through the Local Economic Recovery Program, funded by Commonwealth and the Marshall Liberal Government under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.
Sheep blowfly causes significant economic losses for Australian livestock producers, with researchers suggesting that effective eradication would be achieved after four years of large-scale releases, starting in 2022.