AFTER a citrus canker outbreak in Darwin and northern Western Australia the import of all citrus products from Northern Territory and northern Western Australia into the ACT has been banned.
Acting senior manager of ACT Biosecurity Alison McInnes says the “serious disease”, citrus canker, was found in West Indian lime plants being sold in two Darwin retail outlets in early April and has since been detected in Kununurra and Wyndham in the north of Western Australia.
“Citrus canker is a serious disease that severely impacts fruit quality and yield, sometimes leading to tree death,” she says.
“The declaration made in May 2018 to restrict the import of citrus canker carriers from the Northern Territory into the ACT while a national eradication program is conducted, has now been extended to Western Australia.
“Citrus canker carriers include all citrus plants and their fruit and leaves, and any soil, packaging, equipment and machinery that has come into contact with citrus plants.
“The declaration aligns with movement restrictions already established for citrus canker carriers by the NSW Department of Primary Industries, all other states and the Northern Territory.”
NSW produces 250,000 tonnes of citrus annually representing 40 per cent of Australian production and 36 per cent of exports.
“We’ve made the declaration to protect our home citrus growers in the Canberra region and the significant citrus industry in NSW,” Dr McInnes says.
“Citrus canker has been found in Australia previously and successfully eradicated.
“While Western Australia is a significant commercial producer of citrus fruit, all available evidence indicates that citrus canker is restricted to potted plants in the home and garden sector. Surveillance of citrus production areas so far, has not detected the disease in any citrus orchards.”
The declaration is expected to have minimal impact on ACT fruit and horticultural businesses as citrus plants and fruit can still be imported into the ACT if accompanied by an “Area Freedom Certificate” that certifies that the state or territory or part of a state or territory is known to be free of citrus canker.
Ms McInnes says citrus canker does not affect human health, animals or other plants. Infected fruit also remains safe to be consumed.