The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB,
Halyomorpha halys) is an exotic pest that poses a significant biosecurity risk to Australia's agricultural industries. A highly polyphagous species, it can feed on over 300 host plants, particularly temperate vegetables, fruits and nuts. It can feed including important agricultural crops such as apples, grapes, cotton, citrus, maize, soybeans and tomatoes. BMSB’s strong dispersal capacity and high reproductive output is potentially enabling its spread and establishment in invaded regions. BMSB is also a nuisance pest, infesting homes, offices and factories, with smelly secretions that cause allergic reactions in some people.
BMSB is a native of Japan, Korea, China and Taiwan and its global range is steadily increasing. First introduced to Pennsylvania in the 1990s, it is now found in 43 states in the USA and four Canadian provinces. In Europe, BMSB was first reported in 2008 near Zürich in Switzerland. Subsequently, it spread to Germany by 2012, Strasbourg in France and northern Italy by 2013, and Hungary by 2014. It is projected to spread further to nearby cool temperate countries and regions. Australia and New Zealand remain free, due to intensive efforts, despite increasing approach rates to both countries since 2010, especially since 2014.
BMSB has been arriving on cargo imported from a wider range of countries as it has spread around the northern hemisphere. It hibernates in a very wide range of materials which has meant that specialised biosecurity risk assessment, inspection and treatments must be applied to a large array of goods which were previously not of biosecurity concern.
Prior to 2014, the department found small numbers of live BMSB adults as hitchhikers on various goods from several countries. From December 2014 interceptions of very large numbers of live BMSB in cargo from the USA were detected, requiring the department to put urgent response measures in place during the BMSB season of 1 September to 30 April. Between 2015 and 2017 the department applied seasonal measures only to certain goods shipped from the US. In 2017–18 the department initially extended measures to vehicles and machinery shipped from Italy, due to large detections of BMSB on these goods. Measures were then extended to a wide range of containerised goods from Italy due to high rates of BMSB detected on these goods. For the 2018–19 season the department extended the seasonal measures to seven other European countries, as well as subjecting vessels from Japan to heightened monitoring and surveillance for BMSB.
In the BMSB season from 1 September 2018, this increased application of biosecurity measures to more goods imported from more countries resulted in substantial disruption to trade with industry concern. The department is actively working to optimise pre-border and border measures to minimise disruption to industry. However, BMSB’s continued spread means that intensified efforts on a wider front will be needed to keep it out of Australia.
Due to this increasing BMSB risk, the intense and rapidly changing efforts by the department to manage it, and considerable stakeholder impacts, I decided to add to my 2018–19 work plan a review of the effectiveness of the department’s biosecurity measures to manage the risks of BMSB entering Australia, and what if any improvements should be made.
Scope of review
This review will cover operational policy and activities of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources relevant to BMSB intercepted at border and management of risks of those detected after release of goods from quarantine. The review considered:
- governance of the current system of BMSB management, including:
- processes of BMSB profiling, assessment, inspection and treatment of BMSB-infested conveyances and cargo arriving in Australia
- legal powers to take action
- suitability and robustness of information technology systems used
- effectiveness of BMSB management measures, including
- approval/accreditation of offshore and onshore treatment providers (including approved arrangements)
- verification of effectiveness of offshore and onshore treatments and level of compliance
- industry compliance with updated biosecurity requirements
- engagement and consultation with industry in managing the risks
- identifying improvements required to manage biosecurity risks.
Out of scope
This review will not examine policy and activities that are the responsibility of stakeholders including state and territory governments, individuals and biosecurity industry participants.
Submissions received by the Inspector-General of Biosecurity:
(Six submission received in confidence have been excluded from this list)