The strict regulations aim to protect Australia’s agriculture and natural environment from the spread of exotic pests, diseases and weeds.
Exotic pests, diseases and weeds can enter Australia via items packed in luggage or sent to friends and family. If they establish in Australia, they can wipe out entire food crops, harm Australia’s animals and damage Australia’s natural environment.
The Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources screens, inspects and clears the millions of people, mail parcels, baggage, ships, animals, plants and cargo containers that enter Australia every year using x–ray machines, physical inspections and detector dogs.
African swine fever (ASF) and Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) virus fragments have been detected in meat confiscated at airports by biosecurity officers. Australia remains free of both ASF and FMD.
FMD is considered to be the biggest threat to Australian agriculture and can be transferred to animals through eating contaminated plant or animal matter or by coming into contact with the virus. ASF, which has recently been detected in Vietnam, is a highly infectious disease that could have a serious impact on Australia’s pig industry.
Passengers arriving in Australia are required by law to complete an Incoming Passenger Card. On this card, passengers must honestly declare if they are carrying any meat or animal products, or other items that present a biosecurity risk. In addition to the confiscation of biosecurity risk items upon arrival, passengers who do not declare items may be fined or face prosecution.
Anyone sending items to family or friends living in Australia should not send meat products through the mail. It is important that overseas senders of mail accurately state the contents of articles on the international mail article declaration form.
In 2017-18, Australian biosecurity officers seized nearly 350,000 biosecurity risk items from air passengers and international mail articles. Examples of non-compliance from Vietnam includea passenger who declared traditional medicines, but was also found to have four kilograms of undeclared fresh fruit and vegetables; a passenger who did not declare 24kg of non-commercially processed honey, as well as mangoes, fish and pork.
The Australian Embassy reminds individuals travelling to Australia or sending items to Australia to comply with Australia’s strict biosecurity laws. By doing so, you can help to protect Australia’s agricultural industries and its natural environment from the spread of exotic pests, diseases and weeds.