Extension of nectarine import risk analysis to peaches, plums and apricots from China

​​​​The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (the department) is conducting a review of the biosecurity import requirements for fresh peach (Prunus persica), plum (Prunus salicina and Prunus domestica) and apricot (Prunus armeniaca) fruit from China, for human consumption.

There are three principal steps in the process:

  • Following requests from China in 2001 and 2006, and the release of the Final report for the non-regulated analysis of existing policy for fresh nectarine fruit from China in April 2016, both Australia and China agreed to progress mutual access for other stone fruit species (peaches, plums and apricots) in May 2016 and re-affirmed this commitment in June 2017.
  • The department released a draft report for public comment on 1 August 2017 for a period of 30 calendar days via Biosecurity Advice 2017-14. The report outlines the identified risks and proposed risk management measures to address any risks identified to achieve the appropriate level of protection (ALOP) for Australia.
  • The department will consider stakeholder comments in the preparation of the final report which is expected to be published in September 2017. This will mark the end of the review process.

Consultation

Stakeholders are invited to submit written comments on any of the technical content of the draft report during a 30 calendar day consultation period, closing on 30 August 2017.

Comments and submissions will be considered during preparation of the final report.

For information on how to lodge a submission on the draft report refer to the submissions page.

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Draft report - summary

The Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (the department) has prepared this draft report to assess the biosecurity risk associated with the import of fresh peaches(Prunus persica), plums (Prunus salicina and Prunus domestica) and apricots (Prunus armeniaca) from China into Australia.

Australia permits the importation of fresh stone fruit (nectarines, peaches, plums and apricots) from the USA (California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington) and New Zealand, for human consumption, provided they meet Australian biosecurity requirements. Australia also permits the importation of fresh nectarines from China. The import of stone fruit under the import conditions recommended in these risk analyses has occurred, including nectarines from China.

The department has conducted a risk analysis for nectarines from China and the Final report for the non-regulated analysis of existing policy for fresh nectarine fruit from China (Final Report for Chinese Nectarines) was released in April 2016. The department proposes to extend the import policy for nectarines from China to include other stone fruit (peaches, plums and apricots) from China. This risk analysis builds on the Final Report for Chinese Nectarines.

The department recognises the similarity of other stone fruit (apricot, peach and plum) to nectarine, as all stone fruit species belong to the same genus – Prunus. The pests associated with Chinese nectarines are closely aligned with the pests associated with these other stone fruit. Peaches, plums and apricots are grown in the same production areas as nectarines. Additionally, the commercial production practices, packinghouse operational procedures and government phytosanitary processes for the production of nectarines are very similar to these other stone fruit. Therefore, the biosecurity risk associated with Chinese nectarines is considered to present a very similar risk to those of the additional stone fruit.

The department has prepared this draft report after reviewing the assessment of the pests associated with Chinese nectarines, the pests associated with the other stone fruit (peaches, plums and apricots) and the latest literature. The review has identified that the pests of quarantine concern for Chinese nectarines are the same as the pests of quarantine concern for the other stone fruit.

The Final Report for Chinese Nectarines identified 19 pests as requiring phytosanitary measures to reduce the level of biosecurity risk to an acceptable level. All 19 pests were also identified as pests of quarantine concern for peaches, plums and apricots. The 19 pests identified as requiring risk management measures are Amphitetranychus viennensis (hawthorn spider mite), Pseudococcus comstocki (comstock mealybug), Frankliniella intonsa (Eurasian flower thrips), Frankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips), Bactrocera correcta (guava fruit fly), Bactrocera dorsalis (Oriental fruit fly), Drosophila suzukii (spotted wing drosophila), Adoxophyes orana (summerfruit tortrix), Argyrotaenia ljungiana (grape tortrix), Carposina sasakii (peach fruit moth), Grapholita funebrana (plum fruit moth), Grapholita molesta (Oriental fruit moth), Spilonota albicana (white fruit moth), Anarsia lineatella (peach twig borer), Monilinia fructigena (brown rot), Monilia mumecola (brown rot), Monilia polystroma (brown rot), Monilinia yunnanensis (brown rot) and Plum pox virus.

This review identified an additional mealybug species, Phenacoccus aceris (apple mealybug), that was not assessed in the Final Report for Chinese Nectarines, as being a quarantine pest for the three stone fruit. The review found that Phenacoccus aceris is also associated with nectarine fruit, and therefore should be considered to be a quarantine pest for all stone fruit, including nectarines. The Final Report for Chinese Nectarines recommended measures for mealybugs and these measures are also proposed for this additional mealybug. Phenacoccus aceris has also been assessed in USA stone fruit and Chinese apples and recommended measures proposed are the same as recommended in those risk analyses.

Given that the quarantine pests for these other stone fruit and Chinese nectarines are the same, the measures recommended for the importation of Chinese nectarines are also proposed for Chinese peaches, plums and apricots. The proposed measures include:

  • visual inspection and remedial action for leaf rollers, mealybugs, spider mite and thrips
  • area freedom or fruit treatment (cold disinfestation or irradiation) for fruit flies
  • area freedom or fruit treatment (methyl bromide fumigation or irradiation) or a systems approach approved by the department for spotted wing drosophila
  • area freedom or area of low pest prevalence or fruit treatment (methyl bromide fumigation or irradiation) or a systems approach approved by the department for fruit borers
  • area freedom or area of low pest prevalence or alternative equivalent measures approved by the department for brown rots
  • area freedom or systems approach approved by the department for plum pox virus.

This draft report has been published on the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website to allow interested parties to provide comments and submission within the consultation period.

Rationale for the review

The department has recently established biosecurity import requirements for Chinese nectarines and trade has commenced successfully.

The department recognises the similarity of other stone fruit (peaches, plums and apricots) to nectarine. Peaches, plums and apricots are grown in the same production areas as nectarines and the commercial production systems and government biosecurity processes are very similar.

The quarantine pests associated with Chinese nectarines are the same as the quarantine pests identified for other stone fruit commodities. Therefore, the department considers that the biosecurity risk associated with Chinese nectarines will be the same for these additional stone fruit.

As such, the department proposes to extend the import policy for nectarines from China to include other stone fruit (peaches, plums and apricots) from China.

Review of biosecurity import requirements

A review of biosecurity import requirements is a process used by the department to consider an import proposal when the potential quarantine pests of concern identified are the same as or similar to quarantine pests for which import policies currently exist.

The analysis considers the risks of pests and diseases associated with the proposed import along with any sanitary and phytosanitary measures that could address these risks.

Australia has existing import policies for fresh stone fruit from the USA (California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington) and New Zealand, and nectarines from China, provided they meet Australia’s biosecurity requirements.

Given that the quarantine pests for Chinese nectarines are the same as those of other stone fruit, the phytosanitary measures established for the importation of Chinese nectarines are also proposed for Chinese peaches, plums and apricots. As such, the department proposes to extend the import policy for nectarines from China to include other stone fruit (peaches, plums and apricots) from China. While undertaking this review, the department identified an additional mealybug species as being a quarantine pest for peaches, plums and apricots that was not assessed in the Chinese nectarine protocol. This mealybug species is also associated with nectarine fruit, and therefore considered to be a quarantine pest not only for peaches, plums and apricots, but also for nectarines.

The department has conducted an assessment of this mealybug species and proposes the phytosanitary measures established for the mealybugs in the Chinese nectarine protocol, which includes visual inspection and remedial action if found, to manage this additional mealybug. This mealybug species has also been assessed in USA stone fruit and Chinese apples and recommended measures proposed are the same as recommended in those risk analyses. The proposed phytosanitary measures will manage any risks of quarantine pests, associated with Chinese stone fruit, establishing in Australia.

This is consistent with the Biosecurity Act 2015 and Biosecurity Import Risk Analysis Guidelines 2016.

Protecting Australia from exotic pests

Comprehensive risk analyses of pests and diseases are undertaken and risk management options are recommended to address any risk of exotic pests and diseases entering and establishing in Australia. Any recommended measures will reflect Australia’s overall approach to the management of biosecurity risk.

Zero risk is impossible; it would mean no tourists, no international travel and no imports of any commodities. Australia invests heavily in biosecurity to ensure risks are managed to the lowest possible level.

Australia exports almost two thirds of its agricultural produce. The future of our agriculture and food industries, including their capacity to contribute to growth and jobs, depends on Australia’s capacity to maintain a good plant and animal health status.

Australia accepts imports only when we are confident the risks of pests and diseases can be managed to achieve the appropriate level of protection for Australia.

Considerations during a review of biosecurity import requirements

International obligations

All World Trade Organization (WTO) members are signatories to the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (the SPS Agreement), under which they have both rights and obligations.

The basic obligations of the SPS Agreement are that SPS measures must:

  • be based on a risk assessment appropriate to the circumstances or drawn from standards developed by the World Organization for Animal Health and the International Plant Protection Convention
  • only be applied to the extent necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health
  • be based on science
  • not arbitrarily or unjustifiably discriminate between WTO members, or be a disguised restriction on trade.

Under the SPS Agreement, each WTO Member is entitled to maintain a level of protection it considers appropriate to protect human, animal or plant life or health within its territory – in other words, its appropriate level of protection.

Appropriate level of protection

The appropriate level of protection (ALOP) for Australia is defined in the Biosecurity Act 2015 as: a high level of sanitary and phytosanitary protection aimed at reducing biosecurity risks to very low, but not to zero.

This definition has been reached with the agreement of all state and territory governments and recognises that a zero risk stance is impractical because this would mean Australia would have no tourists, no international travel and no imports.

The ALOP is a broad objective, and risk management measures are established to achieve that objective.

Biosecurity risk

The term ‘biosecurity risk’ is used to describe the combination of the likelihood and the consequences of a pest or disease of biosecurity concern entering, establishing and spreading in Australia.

Australia's biosecurity system protects our unique environment and agricultural sector and supports our reputation as a safe and reliable trading nation. This has significant economic, environmental and community benefits for all Australians.

Identifying risk

A risk analysis is an examination of the potential biosecurity risks associated with an import of animals, plants or other goods into Australia. It plays an important role in protecting Australia’s biosecurity.

If the assessed level of biosecurity risk exceeds the ALOP for Australia, the department will consider whether there are any risk management measures that would reduce the biosecurity risk to achieve the ALOP. If there are no risk management measures that reduce the risk to that level, trade will not be allowed.

Meeting Australia’s food laws

All food sold in Australia must satisfy Australia’s food laws. Australian law requires that all food, including imported fresh fruit, meets the standards set out in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, adheres to the food laws of each state and territory, and meets the requirements of the Imported Food Control Act 1992.

New scientific information

Scientific information can be provided to the department at any time, including after a risk analysis has been completed. The department will consider the information provided and will review the import policy.

Contact information

For more information, stakeholders can email Plant or phone +61 2 6272 5094