In Australia, Queensland horticulture industry representative Growcom has congratulated biosecurity staff in Brisbane on the successful interception of illegally imported citrus budwood harbouring the deadly citrus greening disease, also known as Huanglongbing.
Growcom chief executve David Thomson said the industry was grateful for the biosecurity officials at Brisbane Airport who made the detection, preventing the entry of a "devastating plant disease" into Australia.
“We applaud the biosecurity staff that made this discovery. Their actions have potentially stopped an industry-decimating pest incursion from taking hold,” Thomson said.
“The citrus industry supports a huge number of rural families and businesses, and contributes a significant amount to the Australian economy," he continued. "Australia produces 750,000 tonnes of citrus annually with an export value of around A$460 million.
“The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources reported the passenger attempted to smuggle citrus budwood through Brisbane Airport in the inner tubing of a tyre. The passenger is now subject to enforcement action by the Department and, if found guilty, could face fines of up to A$420,000 and/or up to ten years' imprisonment.
“Growcom will continue to support the Australian citrus industry in the production of fresh, healthy, high-quality Australian produce for domestic and export markets," Thomson noted. “This is only possible with the support of stringent biosecurity systems and information to ensure travelers entering the country are aware of their obligations.”
Citrus greening disease is Australia’s fifth priority plant pest and there is currently no cure. The disease is currently not present in Australia. Where it does exist, it reduces production, renders fruit inedible and eventually kills the tree.