For some quarantine pests, potentially affected products can only come from areas that are certified as pest-free (eg through testing for PCN, a trapping and monitoring program for fruit flies) and/or with postharvest inspection to check that the products are free from infestation. For other products and markets, particularly for products susceptible to fruit flies, postharvest treatments may be required.
Mandated treatments for interstate access are defined by a series of Interstate Certification Assurance (ICA) documents. This system allows accredited businesses to perform their own treatments or inspections as set out in the regulations. For example ‘ICA-04 – Fumigating with methyl bromide’ sets out the principles of operation and design of fumigation chambers as well as dosages, time of exposure and treatment temperatures required. While ICAs are developed on a state basis, they are generally recognised throughout Australia.
International agreements relating to market access can take years to develop and yet change virtually overnight. Agreements are negotiated directly between the relevant government agencies using supporting documented evidence. This may include pest risk assessments, pest survey data, peer reviewed scientific papers, trial data and other materials that demonstrate freedom from, or control of, significant pests.
Each country has its own import requirements. These can be accessed on the MiCOR online database (micor.agriculture.gov.au). The minimum requirement for exporters is usually a phytosanitary certificate declaring that the consignment is free from pests, soil, weed seeds or other material.
Some products and markets may require additional declarations or endorsements. For example, brassica vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower) exported to Taiwan need to be inspected and found free of stem nematode, white-fringed beetle and Western flower thrips. The consignment also needs to be sealed to prevent later infestation by any of these pests. Chards (spinach, silverbeet) exported to Japan must be either inspected during production and found free of burrowing nematode, or grown in areas free of this pest, as determined by soil sampling.
Vegetables usually cannot be exported if they could potentially be affected by a pest—such as Qfly or burrowing nematode—that is absent in the importing country and no treatment and/or inspection protocol has been agreed for that product. For example, Tasmania is the only part of Australia that can export capsicums and cucumbers to Japan, as it is the only state recognised as fruit fly-free. Although disinfestation protocols for capsicums and cucumbers do exist, suitable supporting data has not been presented to, and approved by, Japanese Government authorities. As no protocol is in place, importation to Japan is prohibited.