A Western Australian-based pork production has copped $500,000 fine and two of its staff have been jailed for illegally importing boar semen over an eight-year period.
Danish-backed GD Pork Pty Ltd, which went into administration last year, entered guilty pleas in April to 12 charges of aggravated illegal importation (commercial advantage) and four charges of contraveningconditions applying to conditionally non-prohibited goods brought or imported into Australian territory to obtain a commercial advantage.
The court heard evidence boar semen had been illegally imported from Denmark on a number of occasions between May 2009 and March 2017.
It was used in GD Pork's artificial breeding program and a number of breeding sows owned by the company were direct offspring of Danish boars.
In the Perth District Court on Tuesday managing director Torben Soerensen was sentenced to three years' imprisonment and must serve at least 18 months before he is eligible for parole while internal advisor Henning Laue was sentenced to two years' imprisonment and will be eligible for parole after eight months.
GD Pork received a fine of $500,000.
In a statement released after the sentencing, Australian Pork Limited CEO Margo Andrae supported the sentence and condemned the company's actions as "a shocking violation of trust".
Ms Andrae said since authorities uncovered the breach in January 2017, APL had worked closely to support investigations.
"This producer's actions openly flouted Australia's strict biosecurity laws and had the potential to damage Australia's $5.3 billion pork industry, as well as the livelihoods of more than 2,500 Australian pig farmers and 36,000 supply chain workers," she said.
"At a time when Australia's pork industry and the Australian Government is focussed on keeping out African Swine Fever as is spreads across the globe, it's a timely reminder that it only takes one reckless producer to put the entire industry at risk."
Agriculture minister Bridget McKenzie said the Australian Government takes any breach of biosecurity legislation seriously.
"This case shows a disturbing disregard for the laws that protect the livelihoods of Australia's 2,700 pork producers, and the quality of the pork that millions of Australians enjoy each year," she said.
"GD Pork imported the semen illegally in an attempt to get an unfair advantage over its competitors, through new genetics.
"These actions could have also exposed Australia's agricultural industries, environment and the community to serious biosecurity risk."
Ms McKenzie said boar semen could potentially contains diseases such as Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome.
"Biosecurity controls exist for a reason," she said
"Importers and those within supply chains must comply.
"Those caught seeking to deliberately evade biosecurity controls will be punished."