Report 18

Managing the Impact of Plant and Animal Pests: A State-wide Challenge

The Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007 is Western Australia’s principal legislation for the management of pests

DAFWA is responsible for the administration of the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007

Two of the main purposes of the BAM Act are to prevent new animal and plant pests and diseases from entering Western Australia and to manage the impact and spread of those pests already present in the state.

The Council was established in February 2008 as a specialist advisory group to the Minister for Agriculture and Food and the Director General of DAFWA on issues related to biosecurity.

The Council liaises with the BSOG. The BSOG is comprised of senior executives from the five State Government agencies that have biosecurity responsibilities – DAFWA, DPaW, Department of Fisheries, Forest Products Commission and the Department of the Premier and Cabinet.

DAFWA is responsible for the administration of the BAM Act. It aims to build capacity for shared responsibility between government agencies, industry and community to prevent the introduction of pests and to manage priority pests that are introduced or established in Western Australia. This work is undertaken through research, policy formulation, operational management and emergency response capacity.

In 2012-13, DAFWA spent $14.6 million in funds appropriated by Parliament on border security and the management of declared pests. An additional $3.1 million in expenditure was funded from Royalties for Regions, Commonwealth and other state governments and $6.3 million spent by RBG and Industry Funding Schemes. DAFWA advised that expenditure has declined over the last decade and while it lacks the details to show that decline, it points to a 32 per cent reduction in its full time staff since 2001-02 as illustrative of the reduced funding.

DAFWA says that it focuses its efforts on preventing new pests and diseases entering the state and early intervention in eradicating those pests that do enter because this provides the greatest economic return in the control of pests. Since the arrival of Cane Toads in 2009 no new pests have become established in Western Australia.

DAFWA attempts to restrict new pests from entering the state through its domestic quarantine inspection services at key highway checkpoints (Eucla and Kununurra), rail terminals (Indian-Pacific train), interstate air passengers (Perth, Kununurra, Broome, Kalgoorlie and Karratha airports) and sea freight checks. DAFWA has reported that in 2012-13 the quarantine service seized 41 611 kilograms of quarantine risk material.

However, the nature and pathways of pests is such that many will not be detected at check points and it is therefore important to have a range of complementary controls in operation. DAFWA’s long running starling control program is one example. This program operates to prevent starlings from entering Western Australia and to eradicate them when they are detected. DAFWA advises that the program has been effective in mitigating the potential risk posed by this pest.

Case Study – Starling Control-Eradication Program

 

It is the responsibility of landholders to control pests on their land

Under the BAM Act it is the landholder of an area infested with a declared pest that must take prescribed measures to control the pest. The Act also requires that a person who finds or suspects the presence of a pest must report it to DAFWA. The BAM Act provides a range of state government officers with the power to conduct inspections and issue pest exclusion and control notices to landholders who fail to control pests on their land. These include:

  • Fisheries Officers
  • DPaW Wildlife Officers
  • DAFWA Inspectors.

Through the BAM Act, groups that control pests that impact on public as well as private interests can receive formal recognition as a RBG. These groups give communities the opportunity to come together to address locally significant biosecurity issues. Communities can identify their priority pests, then plan and coordinate efforts to tackle these priorities. The framework is based on the concept that pests are rarely restricted by individual property boundaries. This means that effective management requires landholders to work together to coordinate their control efforts.

Industry Funding Schemes can also be established to raise funds for the control of identified priority pests and diseases that threaten the profitability and competiveness of their industry.

DPaW also plays a significant role in controlling terrestrial pests

DPaW is one of the largest landholders in the state. It has a responsibility under the BAM Act to control pests on 22 million hectares of national parks, conservation parks, nature reserves, state forest, marine parks and marine nature reserves vested in the Conservation Commission, and six million hectares of freehold and ex-pastoral lease land managed for conservation purposes. It is also responsible through a government agreement for fire preparedness and pest control on 89 million hectares of Unallocated Crown Land and unmanaged reserves.

As part of its legislative responsibilities for flora and fauna conservation, particularly in relation to threatened species, DPaW may undertake activities related to the control of invasive species that pose a significant threat to  species  conservation.  DPaW spent $11.7 million on various invasive species programs in 2011-12. In meeting its responsibilities under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950, DPaW also regulates the culling of native animals causing damage such as Western Grey Kangaroos, Corellas and Rainbow Lorikeets.

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