This year has been a year of contrasts which has seen an increase in biosecurity risks arriving at Australia’s international mail centres.
Between January and April, Biosecurity officers intercepted around 30,000 mail items posing a potential pest and disease threat.
Head of Biosecurity, Lyn O’Connell, said the impact of COVID-19 seems to have led to more people purchasing certain goods online from overseas.
“In total, our officers intercepted around 9000 more mail items containing biosecurity risk material, compared to the same four-month period last year,” Ms O’Connell said.
“This includes more than 26 thousand mail items containing seeds, 1,800 containing animal products and over 600 containing meat.
“Biosecurity detector dogs have been especially busy at the mail centres, making a range of important finds.
“This includes a parcel that contained 40 eggs and was heavily infested with live insects. Eggs can carry significant risks, including Newcastle disease and avian influenza.
“The detector dogs also intercepted live plants, pork slices and sausages, a kilo of retorted chicken feet and 925g of pork buns.
“Another parcel contained 10 peyote cactus – Lophophora williamsii, which were referred to the Australian Border Force as they can potentially be used for narcotics.
“Meat and animal products can carry animal biosecurity risks, including African swine fever, which could devastate Australia’s pork industry.
“Seeds and plants are a biosecurity risk because they can carry pathogens or pests that can threaten the environment and horticulture industries.
“Our biosecurity officers and detector dogs provide crucial front line defence at our mail centres, and we’re also deploying 3D x-rays that can automatically detect biosecurity risk items.
“However, everyone needs to do their part in safeguarding Australia’s agriculture and the environment by doing the right thing when buying goods online from overseas.
“Make sure you are aware of items that may not be permitted and do your biosecurity research before you click purchase.”
Mail items that pose a biosecurity risk and do not meet import conditions are directed for immediate export back to the overseas sender, or immediately destroyed.
People found to breach Australia’s biosecurity conditions can be subject to an investigation and possible criminal prosecution.