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A refreshed National Fruit Fly Council

The National Fruit Fly Council brings together governments, industries and research funders to facilitate a national approach to managing Queensland fruit fly (Qfly) and Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly) in Australia and preventing exotic fruit fly species from establishing.

The new manager of the Council, Christina Cook, said that there is renewed focus on the coordination of fruit fly management in Australia.

“A number of outbreaks occurring in pest free areas in recent years resulted in increased scrutiny from trading partners on our fruit fly status,” said Ms Cook.

In late 2018 the Australian Government announced an additional $16.9M in funding over four years to further strengthen the national fruit fly management system through research and a series of reform measures.

The Council plays a pivotal role in providing advice and support to this funding program and will be revising the National Fruit Fly Strategy in the coming months to better reflect this renewed direction.

To best position itself for this role, the Council will be expanding its industry membership by two positions and recruiting a new independent chair.

At its September meeting, the Council considered the progress being made on Australia’s Fruit Fly Management Protocols which will replace the national fruit fly Codes of Practice.

The new protocols provide a more adaptable approach to fruit fly management and the Council emphasised the need to ensure appropriate industry engagement on them in the coming months.

The Council is managed by Plant Health Australia with membership consisting of federal and state government representatives, growers from different regions and fruit fly affected commodities, and Hort Innovation.

The combined experience of Council members ensures that the group understands and considers different crop types and fruit fly management systems from across Australia’s horticulture production regions, as well as research capacity.

The Council oversees the National Fruit Fly Strategy which aims to enhance the Australian fruit fly system to ensure it is viable, cost-effective and sustainable. It covers the four key elements of Australia’s fruit fly system: market access and biosecurity; fruit fly management systems; legislation and regulation; and research and development.

Topical issues for the Council include:

  • prioritising gaps in fruit fly research to inform government and industry R&D spending
  • improving methods of detection and management of fruit fly
  • harmonising fruit fly regulations across Australia
  • maintaining and improving market access by supporting the systems and science needed to do so
  • considering the future role of fruit fly Sterile Insect Technology in Australia for Qfly and Medfly
  • preventing and preparing for potential incursions of exotic fruit flies
  • communicating and encouraging the uptake of fruit fly research and development.

The Council is keen for regional growers and communities to better engage in fruit fly issues to improve their ability to uptake research and better coordinate management efforts.

Ms Cook said the Council is looking for opportunities to support workshops on topics of local relevance such as Area Wide Management, systems approaches, peri-urban management, and in-field controls.

At the meeting, the Council noted interest from growers in the review of the Interstate Certification Assurance arrangements and encouraged regulators to run a workshop on this topic soon.

It also welcomed the proposal to hold a South Australian Fruit Fly Summit in the first half of 2020 in the Riverland to consider the current and emerging risks to production and trade from fruit fly.

The next Council meeting will be held in Melbourne on 4 December 2019.

More information about the Councils is available here.