2016 Volume 51 Issue Special-issue Pages S1-S6
Australia’s current biosecurity controls for importation of ornamental fish focus on post arrival quarantine. Various reviews, including a recent import risk analysis of freshwater ornamental fish on gourami iridovirus have identified a range of shortcomings. These shortcomings include that the current post-arrival inspection and quarantine isolation do not fully manage risks associated with fish that are sub-clinically infected, and that the current system does not adequately address risks posed by emerging diseases. To better meet its biosecurity obligations, the Department of Agriculture is reforming the current system by placing greater emphasis on managing biosecurity risks off-shore at source. At the heart of the new approach will be an on-arrival fish health surveillance system that aims to verify on-going compliance by overseas authorities in meeting Australia’s import requirements. Data collected by the surveillance system will provide for evidence-based decisions to address problems through government-to-government and industry channels. This could include the restriction or suspension of imports from high risk sources when non-compliance is not remedied. Importantly, the new approach will reward compliant exporters and importers, and allow the department to channel its resources to areas of greatest biosecurity risk. This biosecurity reform initiative represents significant change for both the government and industry. While some elements of the new system will be introduced in the near term, full implementation of the reforms, including the Fish Health Surveillance System, is likely to take some time.