Tasmania has tightened protocols in areas of the state affected by fruit flies.Biosecurity Tasmania has tightened restrictions in fruit-fly affected areas over fears the island state could lose access to million-dollar overseas markets.
Adult fruit flies, considered a list-A pest in the Apple Isle, were trapped this month at Flinders Island and at Spreyton, near Devonport, in the state’s north.
A 15km control zone has been set up around Spreyton.
Taiwan on Wednesday suspended fruit imports from the affected areas.
Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff said the federal government had passed on advice from international importers that restrictions needed to be made tighter.
Tasmania relies on its fruit-fly-free status for access to million-dollar premium markets in Japan, Korea, USA, China and Taiwan.
“There was a risk that if we didn’t strengthen our protocols around the control zone that we may well lose that status,” Mr Rockliff said on Friday.
“If we lost our status state-wide, that would take some 12 months to regain.”
Queensland fruit fly larvae was found in a backyard apricot tree at Spreyton about three weeks ago before an adult specimen was trapped.
Several adult flies were discovered at Flinders Island.
Biosecurity Tasmania staff have been spraying and setting up traps at more than 400 properties.
Fruit leaving the control zone must now either be cold sterilised or fumigated.
It can still be sold to other states under permit.
A $2 million package for growers was announced by Mr Rockliff to help cover the costs of the new measures.
“(It) came as a shock to them,” Fruit Growers Tasmania President Nick Hansen said.
“Fruit growers and vegetable growers – we’re used to adversity. We’ll get through it.”
Fruit from the control zone heading to Tasmanian markets on Friday afternoon was returned, Mr Hansen said.
This season’s cherry crop was unaffected as it had already been picked and packed before fruit flies were detected, he added.
The Queensland fruit fly is found along ‘s eastern seaboard and in the Northern Territory and was declared a list-A pest in Tasmania in 1997.