Beekeepers win protective measures

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Revised biosecurity measures ensure all honey and bee products imported into WA have to be heat treated or be from an area free from European foulbrood. Picture: West Coast Honey

BEEKEEPERS in Yanchep and Gingin will have some protection from honey and bee product imports, which could introduce damaging pests and diseases and threaten the state’s valuable agriculture and food sector, according to the Department of Agriculture and Food.

In a statement the department said a revised biosecurity (prohibited and conditionally non-prohibited goods) determination 2016 recently announced by the Federal Government would protect Western Australia’s enviable biosecurity reputation.

A spokeswoman said the outcome was a result of negotiations between the Department of Agriculture and Food WA and the Federal Government, following the implementation of the Commonwealth Biosecurity Act.

“The determination includes new conditions to protect the WA bee industry’s freedom from the potentially devastating disease European foulbrood,’’ she said.

“The conditions require all honey and bee products imported into WA to be heat treated to 60 degrees Celsius or to be sourced from a country or zone that is free from European foulbrood.

“The updated import requirements have been noted in the Commonwealth’s Biosecurity Import Conditions System, known as BICON, used by importers and exporters.’’

Department of Agriculture and Food WA biosecurity and regulation executive director Kevin Chennell said the positive result acknowledged the importance of protecting the state’s freedom from European foulbrood.

“As a result, honey, honeycomb, propolis and royal jelly imported to WA from overseas will be subject to specific measures to manage the risk of the disease entering and establishing in our state,” he said.

Dr Chennell said interstate conditions managed by the department under the Biosecurity and Agricultural Management Act also remained in place.

“This inclusion at the national level will reinforce the state’s freedom from European foulbrood and facilitate access to discerning export markets.’’

Dr Chennell said the negotiations demonstrated the Federal Government process recognised the importance of individual state differences in biosecurity risks and protocols, based on scientific evidence and he noted the professional way that the state and commonwealth authorities had negotiated the outcomes.

He also acknowledged the co-operation and support of industry.

“WA is free from many of the world’s worst pests and diseases – even those found in other States – due to our isolation and strict biosecurity protocols, which provide industry with an enviable marketing advantage.

“The department has responded to industry concerns about the recent changes to import requirements and worked closely with stakeholders and the Federal Government towards a positive outcome.”