Travellers put regionís fruit industry at risk
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More than 70 motorists have been issued with infringement notices as a result of random fruit fly inspections held in the Riverina during the first few weeks of May.
The inspections were conducted by NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) at Sandigo,19 kilometres east of Narrandera, on the Sturt Highway.
Peter Morrish from Riverina Citrus said it was disappointing to see these people put the local fruit growing industry at risk by introducing fresh fruit into the NSW Fruit Fly Exclusion Zone.
"The industry is valued at $60 million and represents the livelihoods of 1200 orchardists. We depend upon the goodwill of people travelling in and out of the area to protect the industry from Queensland fruit fly," he said.
NSW DPI Manager of Animal and Plant Regulatory Operations, Dr Andrew Sanger, said the inspections were held on nine week days between 5 - 20 May, instead of the peak tourist travelling times on weekends and holiday periods.
"This showed us that locals and tourists are introducing fruit into the Zone," he said.
Dr Sanger said in total 1235 vehicles were inspected, 75 were found to be carrying fruit and 71 infringement notices were issued.
"The percentage of detections is as expected, however, we need to keep getting our message out there so people understand the importance of not bringing fruit into the exclusion zone," he said.
Motorists were found carrying a range of fruit from apples, oranges and lemons through to tropical fruits such as avocadoes.
Surprisingly, Dr Sanger said many people stopped did not realise that avocadoes were fruit. "Similarly people claimed that they did not realise that tomatoes, capsicums and chillies were fruit fly hosts, even though the warning signs specifically list them as hosts," he said.
"NSW Fruit Fly Exclusion Zone areas are clearly marked and motorists should be on the look out for the signs. Those travellers who are unsure of which fruits are fruit fly hosts should stop and read the advisory signs at the disposal bins before entering the Zone."
Dr Sanger said the majority of fruit fly outbreaks were associated with travellers bringing infested fruit into the Fruit Fly Exclusion Zone.
For further information on fruit fly please check the NSW DPI website.
Media contact: Sarah Chester on (02) 6036 2110 or 0147 207 669