Biosecurity management: so what exactly is biosecurity?

There’s been a lot of talk within the resources and energy sector about ‘biosecurity’, as well as recent media attention surrounding weed incursions on private properties.

So what exactly is biosecurity?

Exotic pests and diseases (such as weeds, pest animals, parasites and other pathogens) can have a devastating effect on food security, our environment and the economy. Biosecurity is all about the actions taken to protect us from those impacts.

Much of the work done to protect Australia’s biosecurity happens at our borders, as part of our strict customs and quarantine processes. However, once exotic pests and diseases enter Australia, the focus shifts to prevention and control strategies at the state, regional, local and property levels.

Exotic pests and diseases can degrade capability, damage a company’s reputation and require years of costly control, follow-up and monitoring. Should a significant incursion occur, there is also the risk of lengthy legal battles, fighting potential litigation and compensation claims.

What are biosecurity risk materials?

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry suggests that biosecurity risk materials include:

  • Animal material (such as hair, fur, skin, faeces, shell, blood and fluids, feathers, honey, flesh and bone)
  • Live animals (such as rodents and reptiles)
  • Food refuse (such as food scraps)
  • Live insects (such as Khapra beetle)
  • Snails (such as giant African snail)
  • Plant pathogens (such as fungi, nematodes, bacteria and viruses)
  • Plant material (such as pollen, bark, spores, flowers, seeds, gum, leaves, branches, roots, stems, wood, fruits and vegetables)
  • Soil (such as dirt, mud, gravel, clay and sand)
  • Water (potentially harbouring waterborne contaminants such as seeds, pathogens and mosquito larvae and eggs which can be vectors for disease).

You can read more about biosecurity risks on the DAFF website.

What does biosecurity mean for your operations?

Biosecurity management is a legislative requirement and is increasingly becoming part of the commitments within environmental approvals and conditions.

Many companies are implementing Biosecurity Management Plans to demonstrate their commitment to biosecurity management and reduce the risks associated with exotic pests and diseases. Careful planning is often applied throughout operations from the importation of materials into Australia; to the movement of vehicles, plant, equipment and loads between sites; through to the land management activities undertaken on individual properties.

Effective prevention, early detection, control, monitoring and review is the key to biosecurity management.

What practical biosecurity measures are you implementing to help to lower your risks and improve your operations?