Updated fire ant Biosecurity Regulations for South East Queensland

The effort to eliminate one of the world’s most invasive pests from Australia will be further strengthened with changes to reduce human-assisted movement of the pest.

The Biosecurity Regulation 2016 has been amended to provide extra protection for areas that have undergone eradication activities.

National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program General Manager Graeme Dudgeon said the changes would make it easier for industry to do the right thing in the fight against fire ants.

“Building, development, landscaping and hay industries move materials such as soil, hay, quarry products and mulch that may carry fire ants,” he said.

“If movement controls are not followed, every load could potentially spread fire ants across South East Queensland and beyond.

“The changes will add another layer of protection to areas that have had recent eradication activities and will shift the fire ant biosecurity zone boundaries to better align with the program’s current operational boundary.

“With initial reports from the current eradication area, in parts of the Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim and the Ipswich City local government looking very promising, we need to protect these areas from re-infestation.

“We know this will be a period of transition for those in industries at high risk of spreading fire ants, as they modify their business practices and educate their teams on the zones and requirements. We’re here to help with that.

“More stringent requirements will apply to the disposal of a range of construction and landscaping materials in waste facilities in the first eradication zone.”

Mr Dudgeon said fire ant biosecurity zones which guide the movement of these materials will be reduced from three to two to provide greater consistency across South East Queensland.

“Under our 10-year Eradication Plan we’ve been concentrating on eradicating fire ants in the west, while containing and suppressing in the east — it makes sense for the biosecurity zones to reflect this,” he said.

“One of the two fire ant biosecurity zones will cover the western area of the infestation in the Lockyer Valley and surrounding areas, and the other will encompass the other eastern area where fire ants have also been found.

“The zone changes mean some suburbs will be included for the first time, and I urge Queenslanders to familiarise themselves with the fire ant movement controls.”

Mr Dudgeon said the program was also lifting some of the administrative burden involved in transporting material that may contain fire ants.

“Previously only companies with a biosecurity instrument permit (BIP) could use ‘disturbance’ as a risk mitigation strategy for fire ants, but this is now available to everyone,” he said.

Disturbance involves turning, screening or crushing stockpiled material like soil every 21 days and 24 hours prior to moving the material.

“As soil is recognised as a high risk fire ant carrier, we’ve developed a guideline on risk mitigation techniques for individuals and businesses.

“Human-assisted movement is something we have limited control over, so we are all counting on the building, development, nursery, turf and hay industries to do the right thing.

“This is why we have designed a Soil Movement Guideline to help promote voluntary compliance across the region, and make it easier for tradespeople to get their job done.”

Visit daf.qld.gov.au/fireantzones to see full details of the updated regulation, maps of the new biosecurity zones and lists of the suburbs covered in each of the zones.

Contact: National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program

Mobile: 0459 855 046