We have just been advised that the Department of Agriculture has DELAYED the implementation of the new testing arrangements relating to Megalocytivirus until 1st March 2016.
The majority of Australia’s main trading partners for imports of freshwater ornamental fish, in particular Sri Lanka, Singapore and Thailand have asked the government to delay the implementation of the new conditions. This delay will allow Australia’s trading partners the time to establish the required new laboratory testing procedures and surveillance programs in their respective countries.
Further to our announcement this morning in which we advised that the Department of Agriculture (the “Govt”) has DELAYED the implementation of the new testing arrangements relating to Megalocytivirus until 1st March 2016, we have been provided some additional information from the Govt about their plans during the next 12 months.
During the next 12 months the department plans to:
- Work with the exporting countries to improve their laboratory capabilities and surveillance controls for iridoviruses,
- Work with the state and territory authorities to strengthen evidence of iridovirus freedom in domestic ornamental fish production industry, and
- Expand the on-arrival surveillance program trials nationally to identify the key biosecurity risk pathways for the virus.
The department will be asking all importers to take part in the on-arrival surveillance program trials. This will involve the importers providing the Govt with fish samples to test for megalocytivirus. The department will pay the costs associated with this laboratory testing. The test results will be provided to the relevant competent authorities to assist them to target the highest risk areas of their freshwater ornamental fish export industry. The results will also be provided to each importer confidentially.
By taking part in the surveillance program the importers will be able to:
- Find out which of their exporters are sending fish that are free of iridoviruses. This information can help them decide who to source fish from that will meet the Australia’s biosecurity conditions for iridoviruses when the new certification requirements are implemented on 1 March 2016.
- Tell the department directly how any proposed new import conditions could affect their business so that the Govt can consider modifying the conditions to have minimal financial impact on their business while managing biosecurity risks. For example, if the data suggest low risk associated with a particular pathway (i.e. a certain species from a particular exporter), the Govt may be able to adjust samples sizes based on that data.