Commonwealth, Queensland on front line for fighting fire ants
Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment Deputy Secretary Andrew Tongue said the discovery by officers undertaking routine surveillance as part of the National Border Surveillance program was a reminder of the importance of vigilance in maintaining biosecurity.
“Red imported fire ants are one of the world’s worst invasive species due to their devastating economic, environmental and social impacts,” Tongue said. “They are a danger to people and our way of life, destroy agricultural and domestic infrastructure, and are a serious environmental threat. “Northern Australia is the frontline for many high-risk animal and plant pests and diseases, including red imported fire ants.
“Biosecurity Queensland confirmed the ants found in the Port of Brisbane are from the United States and are not related to any other infestations in Australia.
“The Australian Government, Biosecurity Queensland, and detector dogs from the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program found and treated the main nest on 10 March and continue to work together to uncover and eliminate any further possible infestation.
“The Australian Government is also working to develop a tracing plan and is pleased with the cooperation of industry to date. While we were successful in the early detection of a serious biosecurity risk in this instance, looking for and reporting unusual pests, weeds and diseases is something everyone can join us in doing.
“In this instance, industries and businesses at the Port of Brisbane are well placed to keep an eye out for unusual ants and other hitchhiker pests that might arrive on shipping containers or vessels. Australia’s unique natural environment, way of life and our clean, green status as an exporter of high-quality produce hinges on our robust biosecurity system. Complacency is not an option.” ■