3 Mar 2011

Nervous watch on Australia fruit fly outbreaks

11:57 am on 3 March 2011

The horticulture industry is keeping a nervous watch on fresh outbreaks of Queensland fruit fly in some of Australia's fruit production areas.

Over the past two weeks, fruit flies have been found in traps in Tasmania - the only state of Australia with fruit fly free status.

There have also been new finds of the insect in areas of Western Australia and new outbreaks in New South Wales and Victoria.

Horticulture New Zealand chief executive, Peter Silcock, says if the fruit fly was detected here it would immediately close many of New Zealand's fruit and vegetable export markets and devastate the industry.

He says growers need to remain extremely vigilant for their own biosecurity protection as it appears that Australia is having trouble managing the pest.

Mr Silcock says Australia is also trying to change how it chemically treats tomatoes, capsicums and other produce that it exports to New Zealand.

He says it looking to phase out the use of a chemical called dimethoate, which it uses currently as a post harvest dip to control fruit fly and other pests New Zealand does not want.

Mr Silcock says the horticulture industry will also need to be reassured that that alternative treatment is effective against pests.