Do the right thing: Biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility

Natural Resources Kangaroo Island’s (NRKI) compliance series seeks to provide information and clarity on what you need to do to do the right thing. This week, we look at the importance of biosecurity.

As Kangaroo Island is currently free of many pest plants and animals found around Australia, biosecurity on our Island is very much about ‘prevention is better than the cure’. This may sound simple but is critically important as the arrival of new pests and diseases has the potential to devastate the Island’s environment and agricultural industries. 

NRKI works closely with Biosecurity SA to ensure that KI’s biosecurity is maintained to the utmost level, in line with the KI Natural Resources Management (NRM) Board’s policies and supported by their Biosecurity Advisory Committee.

Biosecurity falls under three separate acts: the Natural Resources Management Act 2004, which deals with pest plants and animals, the Livestock Act 1997, which protects the highly favourable pest and disease-free status of the Island’s honey bee population, and the Plant Health Act 2009, which protects the Island’s seed potato industry.

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NRKI Biosecurity Liaison Officer Andrew Triggs said it is important to raise awareness of the risks to the Island’s biosecurity.

“For example, livestock can carry diseases, and weed seeds can be brought to the island and spread in a number of ways, including in imported animal feed, by livestock, in farm-sourced manure or potting material, or even on construction and earthmoving equipment,” Mr Triggs said.

“People are generally aware of biosecurity risks to the Island and do the right thing, but sometimes the risks are not obvious, so community vigilance and support is vital.”

Mr Triggs said awareness of biosecurity risks was increasing through NRKI’s focus in the media and the promotion of educational material and signage.

“One of the key ways of raising awareness is the random biosecurity checks that are conducted at main entry points like the Cape Jervis ferry terminal,” he said.

“We have seen a great reduction in the amount of honey being brought to Kangaroo Island. Previously, about one car in 10 would be carrying honey, but that’s now dropped to about one car in 100. 

“There is also greater awareness about the risks posed by bringing unwashed potatoes to the Island, and Drakes Foodland has been very conscientious in this regard. 

“Kangaroo Island airport, the airline carriers and Sealink have been very supportive industry partners, helping us to raise awareness and reduce the risks posed to our biosecurity.”

NRM Board Presiding Member and local farmer Richard Trethewey said many landholders were working closely with the NRM Board to develop biosecurity plans and procedures for their properties, such as washing down machinery and separating new livestock from established herds for a few days. 

“Work is also being done to reduce the spread of phytophthora, a devastating plant root pathogen, through installing shoe-cleaning stations,” Mr Trethewey said.

The last frontier where NRKI is combatting the spread of pests on the Island is in the marine environment.

NRKI staff have undertaken surveys, engaged with marina and aquaculture operators and boat owners to raise awareness and educate them on how to reduce the risk of introducing marine pests to Kangaroo Island.

Unlike vessel ports and marinas on the mainland, KI’s pristine marine waters remain mostly free from the impacts of marine pests, so we have to be extra vigilant. 

The greatest risk associated with new marine pest incursions comes from the growth attached to boat hulls, which is known as biofouling. When boats are not checked before departure, they can inadvertently spread marine pests.

To combat this threat, boat users, visiting yachts, recreational snorkelers and divers are made aware of these unwanted species through signage, presentations at field days, and to mainland boat owners and marina managers. 

There are national guidelines to assist boat owners to prevent the spread of marine pests and we encourage everyone visiting or living on the Island with a boat to regularly check the bottom of their vessel for marine pests. 

To find out more about KI’s Biosecurity Strategy 2017-2027 and the role each and every one of us has to play, please visit: https://www.naturalresources.sa.gov.au/kangarooisland/plants-and-animals/Biosecurity 

Livestock management guidelines are available here:  https://www.naturalresources.sa.gov.au/files/sharedassets/kangaroo_island/plants_and_animals/pest_plants/nrki-stock-mgt-a4-fact-web-2017.pdf 

Fodder management guidelines are available here: https://www.naturalresources.sa.gov.au/files/sharedassets/kangaroo_island/plants_and_animals/pest_plants/nrki-fodder-mgt-fact-web-2017.pdf 

Vessel anti-fouling and in-water cleaning guidelines are available here: http://www.agriculture.gov.au/biosecurity/avm/vessels/biofouling/anti-fouling-and-inwater-cleaning-guidelines  

There is a lot happening at a national level with biosecurity at the moment. Read more here: http://www.agriculture.gov.au/biosecurity 

 


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