Easter travellers wish they had stuck to chocolate
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A significant number of travellers will wish they had stuck to chocolate after they were caught taking fruit into the Fruit Fly Exclusion Zone near Narrandera on the Sturt Highway during the Easter break.
NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Manager Animal and Plant Regulatory Operations, Dr Andrew Sanger, said during the Easter holiday period 508 vehicles were stopped at Sandigo 19 km east of Narrandera, which resulted in 38 infringement notices being issued.
"NSW DPI warned travellers that it would be monitoring for the illegal introduction of fruit into the exclusion zone during the holiday period, but unfortunately a number of travellers chose to ignore that warning.
"We urge travellers to take notice of the exclusion zone, not only to help protect the fruit industry from Queensland fruit fly, but also to avoid a substantial fine," he said.
NSW DPI spends in excess of $2 million a year on the NSW Fruit Fly Program, and has more than 30 staff involved in fruit fly activities aimed at maintaining trade access for NSW fruit producers.
This includes maintaining the Fruit Fly Exclusion Zone, carrying out research, product control, regulatory activities, and control and eradication when needed.
"NSW DPI has been very disappointed with the number of travellers caught attempting to introduce fruit into the Fruit Fly Exclusion Zone," Dr Sanger said.
"We have appealed to travellers to observe the requirements, and to dispose of their fruit before entering the Fruit Fly Exclusion Zone.
"There are bins on the side of the road near the start of the zone and plenty of signage on all the major roads into the zone, so there is no excuse for people taking fruit into the exclusion zone."
Travellers should note that fruits such as tomatoes, capsicums, chillies and avocadoes, which some people may think are vegetables, are classified as fruit fly hosts and not permitted into the Fruit Fly Exclusion Zone.
Motorists who ignore roadside warning signs and are caught carrying fresh fruit in the zone face fines ranging from minimum $200 on-the-spot to a maximum of $11 000 for serious offences.
For further information on fruit fly please check the NSW DPI website www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/agriculture/pests-weeds/pest-weeds-management/insect-pests/qff
Media contact: Sarah Chester (02) 60 36 2110 or 0417 207 669