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Bee pest surveillance system under review 13 Oct 2015

A comprehensive review is underway into the system protecting Australia’s honey and pollination industries, to ensure it continues to employ the latest technology and place its resources in the most strategic way.

The National Bee Pest Surveillance Program (NBPSP) is a world-leading initiative designed to ensure early detection of a range of exotic pests and diseases, such as Varroa mite, that could devastate both managed and feral hives.

NBPSP facilitator Sam Malfroy, from Plant Health Australia, says regular, effective surveillance is vital.

“We need to have as many eyes, as often as possible, in the right places to provide reassurance that no new threats have arrived in the country, and to let us respond as quickly as possible if one is found,” Mr Malfroy said.

“For eradication to work, we need to identify a new pest or disease close to where it has entered the country, before it has had a chance to spread into a large number of bee colonies.

“This review will look at different scenarios around an incursion, and investigate for each of them how long it would take us to detect a pest via various surveillance methods, how far it is likely to get from a port, and our chances of containing an outbreak.

“The final report will provide a cost:benefit analysis that outlines ideal methods, locations and frequency of surveillance, as well as the costs of not detecting something like Varroa early enough, so we can continue to adjust our procedures.”

The NBPSP is a partnership between industry and government, with funding from the honey bee industry, pollination-reliant plant industries and the Federal Government, with in-kind support from State and Territory governments.

The Federal Department of Agriculture called for a review of its effectiveness ahead of a new funding agreement, after the 2014 Senate inquiry into the Future of the beekeeping and pollination service industries in Australia recommended the government ‘confirm, and consider enlarging, its commitment’ to the NBPSP.

For details on the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program, visit nbpsp.planthealthaustralia.com.au