Biosecurity incursions are one of Queensland agriculture's greatest business risks with exotic pests, diseases and weeds having a potentially crippling impact on plant and animal production systems across the state. While Australia's island status protects the country from exotic pests and diseases to a certain extent, the movement of people and goods around the globe reduces this advantage. As Australia's frontline biosecurity state, Queensland suffers more than most including from an infestation of fire ants - an aggressive and highly adaptive 'super pest'.
Fire ants were first detected in Brisbane in 2001, but it is thought that they may have arrived up to 20 years earlier. How they entered is not known but we do know they will have major social, environmental and economic impacts if left untreated. While the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program continues to find, contain and destroy fire ants in South East Queensland, the rules controlling the movement of materials such as soil, gravel, mulch and hay by individuals in the region are changing to prevent the pest's spread. From May 27, amendments to the Biosecurity Regulation 2016 will see the number of biosecurity zones in the region drop from three to two, a soil movement guideline implemented and updated risk mitigation strategies for people to follow if they are working with and disposing of material that may carry fire ants.
All Queenslanders have an obligation to manage biosecurity risks and threats. The agriculture sector continues to play its part by limiting the impact of fire ants and fulfilling its post border prevention and management obligations to ensure Queensland's economy, environment, health and way of life is not adversely impacted. However, for the eradication program to be successful everyone must embrace this, or risk one of the world's most invasive species becoming permanently established and ruining the way of life for all. Everyone has a General Biosecurity Obligation under Queensland's Biosecurity Act 2014 and must play their part. If you see any suspect ants or nests, please take a photograph and submit via Biosecurity Queensland's online report form at www.daf.qld.gov.au/fireants or call 13 25 23.