More detector dogs key in fight against African swine fever

The Department of Agriculture has been urged to strengthen its measures taken against the global spread of African swine fever (ASF), which has recently been detected in Papua New Guinea.

In an independent report, Australia’s Inspector-General of Biosecurity, Rob Delane, has made thirteen recommendations to the Department of Agriculture regarding its management of the ASF risk to Australia, including the need to urgently expand the detector dog program.

NSW Farmers Pork Committee chair Ean Pollard has welcomed the report’s recommendations.

“The key points from the report are the need for more detector dogs used at incoming passenger and mail centres, greater interventions for international travelers, and increased screening of express mail and parcels from ASF affected countries,” says Mr Pollard.

Mr Pollard acknowledges the work the Australian Government has undertaken so far in implementing the $66.6 million ASF response package, but supports Mr Delane’s view that there is still more work to be done.

“Undeclared pork items are still being brought into the country, so all entry points to Australia need to be monitored – whether it is airports, seaports or the mailing system – and items need to be thoroughly inspected.”

“We know that detector dogs are highly effective in detecting biosecurity risk material, so it is important that they are utilised as much as possible”.

“We welcome the Australian Government’s commitment to deploying six new detector dogs by July 2020. This is a positive step in the right direction.”

“Biosecurity measures are critical now more than ever, with ASF in three of our neighbouring countries and Australia currently fighting a human health crisis created by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

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