(Issued by Department of Agriculture)
A valuable tip-off from a biosecurity-savvy passenger at an overseas airport lounge has led to a number of risky seeds being intercepted at Melbourne Airport.
Deputy Secretary responsible for biosecurity, Lyn O’Connell, said the passenger reported their concerns, after overhearing another passenger discussing their intentions to bring the seeds to Australia.
“This is a great example of one member of the public doing their part to help keep a significant biosecurity risk out of Australia,” Ms O’Connell said.
“They overhead another passenger—who was FaceTiming a relative—say they were bringing a variety of seeds to Australia and the relative has told them to try and not get caught.
“This information and a description of the passenger was reported to the department and our biosecurity officers were then able to identify them when they arrived at Melbourne Airport.
“After inspecting their baggage, our officers found 120 grams of undeclared seeds, which are a risk because they can carry pests or diseases that can impact on Australia’s plant health and horticulture industries.”
The seeds were located in an envelope that was wrapped in a cloth. They included seeds of tomatoes, cantaloupe, watermelon and lemon cucumbers.
Seeds can carry a range of deadly plant pathogens and diseases that are a threat to Australia, including Cucumber green mottle mosaic virus, which is a serious disease of melons and cucumbers.
The passenger received a fine and the matter was referred to the department’s Enforcement team for further investigation.
“We have strong measures in place at our international airports to manage these risks, but everyone has a responsibility to report suspected biosecurity threats,” Ms O’Connell said.
“This will ensure we can all work together to help safeguard Australia’s industries, environment, and plant, animal and human health from significant biosecurity risks.”
If you see, hear or know something that could be a potential biosecurity concern, report it to the department at agriculture.gov.au/report.
Photos available on request.