Record numbers of exotic fruit flies in Torres Strait prompt biosecurity reminder

News release | 04-Mar-2019

With the numbers of exotic fruit flies being detected in Torres Strait nearing record levels, Biosecurity Queensland is urging visitors and locals not to move fruit and vegetables around the region.

Biosecurity Queensland Principal Policy Officer Rebecca Sapuppo said each year, exotic fruit flies were blown into Torres Strait from Papua New Guinea on ‘wet season’ wind currents.

“These fruit flies are eradicated annually using a program of bait spraying, trapping and fruit fly ‘blocking’,” she said.

“This protects fruiting plants in Torres Strait from fruit fly attack and is essential to safeguarding the nation’s billion-dollar fruit and vegetable industries.

“The last time Oriental fruit fly was detected on mainland Queensland in 1995, it cost $33.5 million to eradicate. In addition, the incursion was estimated to have cost industry over $100 million to comply with additional control, quarantine and disinfestation treatments, damaged consignments and lost trade. If it were to happen again, the cost to industry and government may be far greater.”

Ms Sapuppo said recent trapping results showed very high numbers of exotic fruit flies in Torres Strait, so it was very important that people didn’t carry fruit or vegetables between islands, or to the mainland.

“Even a strong gust of wind could be enough to blow fruit fly to the mainland, which is why Biosecurity Queensland and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources have stepped up other biosecurity measures as well,” she said.

“We are doing more baiting of male fruit flies, more bait spraying and trapping, and increased engagement with locals and visitors. There is also increased monitoring of aircraft and boats travelling between Torres Strait and the mainland.”

The Exotic Fruit Flies in Torres Strait Eradication Program is nationally cost-shared between industry and all Australian governments under the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed.

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Media contact: DAF Media,