Western Australia declared free of citrus canker
25 November 2019
Western Australia has been declared free of citrus canker 18 months after the initial detection of the disease in the State.
Quarantine restrictions were lifted on Friday for Kununurra and Wyndham, meaning citrus can again be moved freely throughout the area.
Citrus canker was first detected in May 2018 in imported citrus plants at two retail businesses at Kununurra and at one premise in Wyndham. The plants originated from the Northern Territory.
Citrus Australia CEO, Nathan Hancock, paid tribute to Government agencies and staff involved in the response, and to growers forced to make difficult adjustments to their operations.
WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development staff visited more than 13,000 farms and residential properties across northern WA, and removed 1,520 citrus plants.
“The logistical challenge of tracking plants from the point of origin and inspecting all properties in restricted areas was enormous and has only been achieved through a significant amount of hard work,” Mr Hancock said.
“We are appreciative of the time taken to eradicate this disease, which if left unchallenged, would have a detrimental effect on our citrus exports, and the significant flow-on effect this provides our regional communities.
“It has proven a difficult and challenging time for our northern WA citrus growers and we thank them for their assistance in eradicating this disease.”
Quarantine restrictions have also been removed from properties in Cossack, Katherine, NT. A restricted area was established in June 2018 after a plant with the citrus canker disease was found in Cossack.
The restricted area was cleared of all citrus canker host plants in late 2018. A designated minimum of six months without citrus canker host plants, and no record of citrus canker disease during regrowth surveillance activities, has allowed for the restricted area to be removed.
Two control areas for the control of citrus canker still remain in place around the greater Darwin and Katherine areas, and 12 restricted areas remain in the greater Darwin area.
Mr Hancock said the NT is expected to be declared citrus canker free in 2020.
He urged all Australian residents and international visitors to comply with Australian quarantine laws and not import citrus cuttings illegally.
“This citrus canker incursion will cost the Federal Government and the Australian citrus industry almost $20 million, as well as thousands of employee hours and financial and mental hardship on growers involved,” he said.
“This can all be avoided by not importing illegal budwood, and instead purchasing from accredited nurseries in Australia.”