Exercise Piggyback targets African Swine Fever

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) will lead Exercise Piggyback, designed to test a range of NSW Government agencies involved in the response and recovery from an outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) in NSW.

Initiated by the NSW State Emergency Management Committee, Exercise Piggyback will focus on the NSW State Emergency Management Arrangements and will be held across two sites in Orange and Sydney on 24 and 25 November. Resilience NSW will provide support, collaborating closely with DPI.

NSW DPI Deputy Director General Biosecurity and Food Safety John Tracey said NSW and Australia are fortunate to be free of many pests and diseases due to our strong biosecurity, we have been successful to remain ASF free, and we aim to keep it that way.

“ASF is a highly contagious virus of domestic and feral pigs, there is no vaccine or treatment for ASF and it kills around 80 per cent of the pigs it infects,” Mr Tracey said.

“ASF would take an enormous toll on the pork industry, worth $194 million in NSW alone, and will see access to export markets close.

“ASF is a significant biosecurity threat, we aim to protect the economy, environment and communities from negative impacts of ASF.

“In its recently released report “Global Animal Protein Outlook 2021” agribusiness specialist Rabobank identified Asia’s initial recovery from ASF as the biggest driver of growth in the global animal sector for the coming year, while also representing one of the greatest risks for global trade.

“The importance of our preparedness ahead of a possible outbreak cannot be underestimated.

“To address the risk of ASF the Exercise Piggyback aims to test response, destruction, disposal, decontamination and recovery in a catastrophic scenario working with NSW DPI, the State Emergency Operations Centre and Resilience NSW.

“The Exercise will provide the opportunity to identify roles, responsibilities and resource requirements, explore options for destocking and disinfection of affected property and to undertake an impact assessment of affected communities and industries.

“Practicing and building skills within our teams, and in collaboration with other specialist teams boosts our capability to respond to all biosecurity emergencies and events.”

Commissioner of Resilience NSW Shane Fitzsimmons said the exercise was part of a regular program to ensure NSW is prepared for various scenarios.

“Resilience NSW supports communities across NSW to ensure they are confident and prepared before a disaster or event strikes. While there is no risk to human health with African Swine Fever, it would have an enormous impact on industry, people and communities.

“This exercise ensures all agencies act in a joined-up way to build resilience, flex to crises and minimise risk to industry, our economy and most importantly to people,” Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.

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