Be a biosecurity bud this Valentine’s Day

To meet lovers’ demand this Valentine’s Day the number of flower imports significantly rises, but so does the risk of some heart breaking biosecurity pests.

Head of Plant Biosecurity at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Dr Marion Healy, said Australia imports a high quantity of cut flowers every year for occasions like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.

“These imports have been on the rise for the past 20 years to meet peak demand periods, but they could also carry thorny risks that can affect our domestic production or our home gardens,” Dr Healy said.

“Some of the pests and diseases that can hitchhike on imported flowers include thrips, mites and exotic plant pathogens.

“Australia has strict import conditions for flowers and these are in place to protect our environment, agricultural industries and economy.”

There are a range of off-shore requirements for flower imports to ensure they don’t deliver unwanted surprises. This includes good pest controls in the field, followed by inspections to confirm freedom from pests and diseases of biosecurity concern and sometimes a pre-export fumigation treatment and more—all before the flowers even reach our shores.

The department’s focus is to manage biosecurity risks offshore so that they don’t enter Australia, and this applies to other items that might be purchased for Valentine giving.

“We rely on the public and industry to help us keep out exotic pests and diseases and you can do your part by being biosecurity aware when travelling to Australia, shopping online or importing goods,” Dr Healy said.

“Over this period we see presents like flowers, plants, even soft toys that may have sand or rice in them, arriving in Australia and these could carry biosecurity risks.

“It’s a good reminder that if you’re expecting gifts from overseas or buying them online at any time of year you should familiarise yourself with what can be brought into Australia.

“Although gifts can be purchased online it is the buyer’s responsibility to ensure they comply with Australia’s biosecurity laws.

“Failing to declare or falsely declaring risk items can result in a fine or possible prosecution.”

For more information on sending gifts to Australia go to:

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