EXPERTS at the State Biosecurity Forum recommend strong partnerships and global strategies to secure protection of present and future agriculture for WA.
The Western Australia Department of Agriculture and Food held its inaugural forum that centered on present and future biosecurity challenges and opportunities for the state.
The forum brought together a variety of speakers who discussed issues ranging from the effects of climate change and UV radiation on biosecurity to the implementation of computer modeling in agricultural policy making decisions.
The State Minister for Agriculture and Food Terry Redman opened the forum and spoke of the opportunities and challenges WA faces as a ‘biological island’.
Mr Redman says the increase in travel and agricultural exports both interstate and international from WA offer massive opportunities but also come with extra risks.
“We really want to set ourselves up to capitalise on those export opportunities,” he says.
“But also ensuring that we hold the level of biosecurity status that we need in order to be able to grow.”
The speakers focused on a range of topics but all told of the need for a collective effort to ensure WA's security from biological risks.
Mr Redman says the government should take a leading role but there is a need for cooperation between all parties involved to ensure WA’s relatively high biosecurity status.
“Biosecurity is a shared responsibility,” he says.
“It’s not government putting a figure into the budget and saying this is what we are going to do to deal with biosecurity, if we aren’t engaged with industry, if industry isn’t engaged within itself and if industry isn’t engaged with the community... we are doing injustice to the opportunities to maintain strong biosecurity status within WA.”
Department of Agriculture and Food Director General Rob Delane reflected this sentiment.
“Everyone working together at all points of the biosecurity continuum and in partnership is fundamental,” Delane says.
Mr Delane says substantial increases in activities which may threaten WA’s biosecurity—Quarantine WA has recorded a 42 per cent increase in risk material seizures at interstate borders in the last decade—requires agile thinking and action to respond to these ever changing conditions.
“We run this risk of nailing our foot to the floor dealing with what we used to deal with when in fact the world is moving on,” he says.
Mr Delane says a biologically secure state with protection against losses from diseases and plant and animal pests is needed to ensure a profitable agricultural sector.