Biosecurity protecting NSW's economy,
environment and community



Welcome to our first newsletter for 2018. 2017 was a busy year with the start of the Biosecurity Act 2015, Biosecurity Regulations 2017 and other supporting tools and documents.


Over 1,000 people have now completed biosecurity training both online and face-to-face training across NSW from as far away as Lord Howe Island. 


This newsletter has some summer biosecurity tips including interstate quarantine, protecting our waterways and even online shopping and information on some seasonal biosecurity risks. Watch the DPI's video about the brown marmorated stink bug for more information.


During 2018 we will be developing new biosecurity educational material and programs to improve biosecurity awareness and build capacity and capability across the community and industry. Exercise Border Bridge is being held in March 2018 and will assess the ability of NSW, QLD and the Commonwealth to respond jointly to a biosecurity incident. It will test legislation, IT systems and our communications. Check out the articles in this issue.



Exercise Border Bridge


It is critical that the emergency preparation and response capability is strong across all jurisdictions to ensure adequate protection of our $15 billion primary industries sector, our environment and community.


Exercise Border Bridge is a large-scale exercise involving the NSW Department of Primary Industries, NSW Local Land Services, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, as well as Australian plant and livestock industries.


Exercise Border Bridge will assess the ability of NSW, QLD and the Commonwealth to respond jointly to a biosecurity incident that impacts both jurisdictions simultaneously. The scenario will be based on a pest and disease incursion - one which affects livestock, and the other will be a threat to plant production industries.


These are exercises only, and not activities being conducted in response to a real pest or disease incursion and there are no changes in the movement of plant and livestock during the exercise.


The focus of the exercise will be the use of legislation, IT systems and existing arrangements to respond to the biosecurity incident. Both NSW and QLD have recently introduced new biosecurity legislation, so the exercise provides an opportunity to assess how it will be implemented in a cross border scenario. This exercise program is an important part of building government and industry’s capability to prepare and respond effectively and efficiently to biosecurity emergencies.


It will help us identify any gaps in these capabilities and to better prepare for pest and disease incursions that have the potential to damage Australia’s food and fibre production industries. It will also assess the ability of the National Biosecurity Response Team to integrate and contribute to a cross border biosecurity response. For more information on Exercise Border Bridge, visit


This exercise program is an important part of building government and industry’s capability to prepare and respond effectively and efficiently to biosecurity emergencies.



Summer is bug season

Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) season has started. Australia is free of this serious plant pest however border detections are made each season. Watch the DPI's video about the brown marmorated stink bug for more information.


Shipments from the US, Europe and Asia have previously harboured BMSB during the September-April season. This season coincides with the northern hemisphere autumn/winter where BMSB are entering buildings and containers to shelter from cold weather.


If BMSB made it past our border controls, it could have potentially devastating impacts on Australia’s agricultural industries as it is known to affect over 300 fruit, vegetable and ornamental plants.


Keep an eye out for hitchhikers in packages coming from overseas. If you see something unusual, call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline 1800 084 881.




Heading home after the school holidays?

Have you considered the biosecurity risks when you travel long distances?


Vehicles, people and equipment can carry pests, diseases and weed seeds. Be sure to clean down camping equipment, boats, fishing rods and other outdoor equipment every time you travel.


Don’t forget there are rules about taking fruit and other plant matter interstate. Check out up to date information on each State’s quarantine requirements at


Protecting our waterways and our fish

When fishing this summer, please consider the biosecurity of our waterways.


Aquatic pests and diseases pose a genuine threat to the health of our waterways and our native fish species and aquatic production, and everyone has a responsibility in protecting these highly valued resources.


There are simple things you can do to help protect our waters and our fish.


When arriving at a waterway

  • Check equipment is clean and remove visible soiling.
  • Avoiding boating and swimming near known populations of introduced aquatic pests.
  • Be aware of local conditions and restrictions – pay attention to all signs and warnings.

On the water

  • Don’t use prawns or other seafood meant for human consumption as bait.
  • Dispose of waste (including seafood waste bought at supermarkets) away from the water.

When leaving the waterway

  • Use fresh, clean water to flush out boats, motors, trailers and equipment.
  • Pay particular attention to wheel arches, boots and fishing tackle, where waste tends to accumulate.
  • Pick up visible debris and biological material – dispose in general waste bins.

Report anything unusual. Take photos and report sightings of suspected aquatic pests or diseases to the NSW DPI Aquatic Biosecurity 24 hour hotline (02) 4916 3877 or email




Protecting our prawn industries against white spot disease

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is reminding recreational fishers to maintain strict biosecurity measures as the Queensland industry continues to respond to an outbreak of the highly contagious white spot syndrome virus in prawns.


DPI is reminding recreational fishers in NSW waterways to only use prawns labelled as ‘bait prawns for bait’ when fishing.


NSW Acting Chief Veterinary Officer Juliet Corish said white spot, which affects crustaceans, has been detected in a number of prawn farms in Queensland.


"There is currently no evidence of white spot disease in NSW prawns and we want to keep it this way. To help minimise the risk, DPI placed restrictions on the importation into NSW of any uncooked decapod crustaceans (such as prawns, crabs, yabbies, Moreton Bay bugs and lobsters) or polychaete worms from a designated area encompassing all affected areas in south east Queensland," said Dr Corish.


"Prawns intended for human consumption should never be used for bait or berley and unused prawns should never be disposed of in waterways.


"Fishing and boating is a fun pastime for the whole family however to prevent unwanted aquatic pests and diseases it is recommended to “Make ‘clean’ part of your routine” and clean all aquatic gear and equipment when moving between NSW waterways."


Stakeholders should report any suspicion of white spot disease to the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888.


Affected prawns may have loose shell with numerous white spots on the inside surface of the shell and a pink to red discolouration.


Consumers are also reassured that the incident has no human health or food safety implications and no impact on local product.


Everybody plays a part in safeguarding NSW’s biosecurity and protecting our economy, environment and community and our reputation as a clean and safe producer of healthy food.


For more information on NSW restrictions on importation from the Queensland south east affected region visit White Spot Disease.


For more information about on the detection of white spot in farmed prawns in south east Queensland go to or call 1800 900 090.




Online shopping comes with biosecurity risks!

Be wary of animals and plants advertised online – you may be unwittingly contributing to the spread of an unwanted, invasive species.


Ozzie the Hedgehog lives in America but was featured on an Australian-based social media page – and his adorable face captured the attention of many Aussies who thought he would make a cute pet!


Hedgehogs are prohibited in Australia, as is the keeping of non-native pest animals including boa constrictors, chameleons and American corn snakes. These animals can compete with our native animals for food and habitat. They also have the potential to be carriers of diseases that may be harmful to the economy, environment and humans.


Even harmless-looking plants might not be what they seem at first glance – keen-eyed experts have recently spotted a number of cacti that are Weeds of National Significance advertised for sale in Sydney via Gumtree! All Weeds of National Significance have a prohibition on sale.




Australian Bat Lyssavirus

With the upcoming flying fox breeding season, NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is reminding all veterinary practitioners of the risk of Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABLV) to people and other animals, including pets.


ABLV has been found in both fruit bats (flying foxes) and in small insect eating bats (microbats). All bat species in Australia are regarded as being potentially infectious. It is estimated that in the wild only about one percent of bats are infected with ABLV. However in bats found injured or sick and showing nervous symptoms such as inability to fly and aggression, up to 30 percent have been found to be infected.


Since November 1996, three people have died as a result of ABLV infection. All three cases had a history of scratches or bites from bats and the affected people were not previously vaccinated against rabies. In 2013, two horses were euthanased after being infected with ABLV from bats. Overseas, closely related lyssaviruses cause illness in a wide range of domestic and wild animals. It is possible ABLV infection in other animals may be reported in Australia in the future.


The best protection against being exposed to ABLV is to avoid contact with bats. If live bats must be handled then appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) should be worn and the bat handler must be rabies vaccinated. PPE includes puncture-resistant gloves and gauntlets, long sleeved clothing, safety eyewear or face shield to prevent mucous exposures, and a towel to hold the bat. A garden fork, spade or other implements should be used to handle dead bats. Rabies vaccination is thought to provide cross protection against an ABLV challenge.


ABLV is a notifiable disease in any species and there is a legal requirement to notify an authorised officer of all suspected ABLV incidents. Contact the Animal Biosecurity Emergency Hotline on 1800 675 888 or Local Land Services to report.


NSW DPI has information on ABLV for veterinarians and the public available on their website This information includes how to manage cases involving bat-animal interactions. NSW DPI recommends all domestic animals that interact with bats are given post-exposure rabies vaccination following NSW Chief Veterinary Officer approval.


For information about human health and ABLV, call your NSW Health local public health unit on 1300 066 055.



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