The current COVID-19 situation has provided a stark reminder of the importance of biosecurity, with the impacts likely to affect our economy and way of life for a long time to come.
Tasmania's island geography provides us with a natural defensive barrier during the COVID-19 response, offering a key tool in managing the human health risks posed by interstate travel.
Just as importantly, it continues to confer protection to our vital primary industries from the harmful impacts of pests, diseases and weeds. It is thanks to this island advantage that we are able to maintain some of the strictest biosecurity requirements.
In recent months, Biosecurity Tasmania (BT) has helped to implement new COVID-19 arrangements for incoming passengers, in addition to its normal role of ensuring that the state's strict biosecurity requirements are maintained.
These activities include processing arriving passengers as well as inspecting luggage, commercial freight and mail for biosecurity risk material, such as fruit and vegetables, seafood, some animal products, plant material, soil and seeds.
Even though visitor numbers are reduced, it is important to remember that these biosecurity requirements remain in place for all travellers and importers.
Critically, during this time, BT has also maintained business continuity in other key areas, including receipt and processing of samples for plant and animal pest and disease diagnosis; providing advice on the management of weeds and other invasive species; working with animal shelters, welfare organisations and those involved in the livestock supply chain to ensure high standards of animal welfare and; working closely with businesses to address food safety concerns.
Whilst BT is the lead government agency in Tasmania with respect to biosecurity, it's important to remember that biosecurity is a shared responsibility and we all have a critical role to play.
Individuals can do their part by staying up to date with biosecurity requirements, as well as preparing and implementing biosecurity plans for their business or property. Numerous resources are available on-line to assist with this.
In addition, we need to remain vigilant in terms of identification and reporting of new pests, diseases and weeds. Early identification of emerging biosecurity threats helps protect your property, our industries and the wider Tasmanian environment.
If you see something on your property, which is unusual, or of concern, please secure the site by restricting access, and then report it to BT as soon as possible.
For more information visit dpipwe.tas.gov.au/biosecurity or call (03) 6165 3777.