HOME » Biosecurity » AQIS priorities in northern WA » Introducing AQIS, Broome WA
Introducing AQIS, Broome WA


 
Play  Peter Cochrane introduces AQIS, Broome WA.
  thisfinalwebsite peter cochrane1.mp3  
To listen to soundfile: click on the headphones icon
To download soundfile: click on the mp3 file name

 
As an island continent with a long coastline, it is important to protect Australia's unique biodiversity. Peter Cochrane, employed by the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) at Broome, explains some of the measures taken to guard against unwanted imports.     
Australian agriculture has a reputation for being clean and green, giving it a disease-free status that AQIS want to maintain. The consequences of even one small event, such as a seagull picking up a grain of wheat from a ship's deck before flying back over the mainland, are potentially devastating, especially given Australia's vast, remote stretches of land.

Left: This is an example of an illegal fishing boat which looks harmless enough at a glance. 

 
Right:: However further inspection finds biosecurity risks. The AQIS officer is below the deck of the "Usasha Sendiri" checking for evidence of Borer/termites.

Australian agriculture has a reputation for being clean and green, with a disease-free status that AQIS want to maintain. The consequences of even one small event, such as a seagull picking up a grain of wheat from a ship's deck before flying back over the mainland, are potentially devastating, given Australia's vast, remote stretches of land.

 

    
Left: Further inspection by AQIS officers find evidence of Borers/termites, illustrated with image of damage from drywood termites.
AQIS operates to safeguard our borders, thereby protecting industries like The Kimberley's cattle stations from foot-and-mouth disease. AQIS surveys northern Australia to ensure nothing has crossed our borders via migratory birds or illegal persons, along with implementing guidelines that cover cargo, ship and aircraft arrivals.
For ships, this is done by lodging a pre-arrival form which sets out the conditions for entering Australian waters.

 
These declarations are then verified by AQIS when they board the vessel. The master of the vessel is interviewed about human health on board the vessel, checks are carried out on whether cattle or grain have been carried and, if all clear, a certificate is issued. AQIS has quarantine premises at all Proclaimed Australian ports, an important strategy in guarding against foreign invaders. All containers, for instance, are inspected for the giant African snail. Ranging in size from a small finger to a teapot, the snails were introduced to the Pacific islands by the Japanese during the World War II as a food source. One recent interception in Perth proved the need for such vigilance.
Below left: Borer discovered in cargo by AQIS inspection

 
To further keep our mainland safe, machines go to prescribed premises. Harvesters, for example, are stripped down in a bid to keep the fungal disease Karnal bunt from infecting our wheat. AQIS also maintains vector programs to keep out human health dangers such as yellow fever and dengue fever. At Broome, there is a live mosquito trapping program. Spraying operations can then take place as finds are made. Mosquitoes can survive in small amounts of water, making it necessary to turn car tyres upside down and holes to be drilled into containers.

 
Ships are required to change their ballast water at sea rather than in port and illegal fishing boats (a source of borers and with water supplies on board) are towed into Broome for inspection. AQIS also conducts dives, checking vessel hulls for exotics, such as mussels. Inspections of all offshore oil rigs are also part of its service. The service uses a range of scientists and works closely with fisheries and agriculture departments, as well as the CSIRO. It is the scientists who decide on the ultimate method of destruction of any unwanted import.

 
Several years ago a mysterious fishing boat (see below) was towed into Broome. It had been found at sea with a hold full of decomposing fish, food on the table and totally without its crew. Spare a thought for the AQIS officer who had to wade through tons of rotting fish when the vessel was meticulously searched for clues to explain what may have happened to the vessel and its crew!     

 
AQIS has a presence at field days and expos and its website (www.aqis.gov.au) is a great place to learn more about its role.
In border security, AQIS really is the quiet achiever.

Images from Peter Cochrane, AQIS Broome WA and Paul McQueen
Text: V.B. July 2009

For more information, please contact us
 
Problems ballast water can bring to our shores

Print Friendly Add to Favourites
Design & SEO by Image Traders Pty Ltd.  Copyright © A Question Of Balance 2017. All rights reserved.