Pigeon rotavirus causes a highly infectious disease, which has killed thousands of racing pigeons as well as those owned by pigeon fanciers.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries recommendations for the pigeon industry to help prevent the spread of pigeon rotavirus and the resultant suffering, distress and death of pigeons are now available. These Pigeon Rotavirus recommendations are strongly supported by RSPCA NSW.
On 1 July 2017 the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015 (‘the Act’) and its subordinate legislation commenced.
To provide a framework for the responsibility for biosecurity risk management to be shared among the community, industry and government, the Act establishes a number of 'biosecurity duties'. These are:
The general biosecurity duty can be found in Part 3 of the Act. Specifically, section 22 of the Act provides:
Any person who deals with biosecurity matter or a carrier and who knows, or ought reasonably to know, the biosecurity risk posed or likely to be posed by the biosecurity matter, carrier or dealing has a biosecurity duty to ensure that, so far as is reasonably practicable, the biosecurity risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised.
An example of a breach of the general biosecurity duty for pigeon owners would be to knowingly import pigeons or their products (e.g. faeces) infected with rotavirus into their loft with the aim to expose and infect their own pigeons.
A person who fails to discharge the person’s duty under the Act is guilty of an offence. Intentional or reckless failure to discharge this duty (Category 1 offence) carries a maximum penalty of:
(a) in the case of an individual—$1,100,000 or imprisonment for 3 years, or both, and, in the case of a continuing offence, a further penalty of $137,500 for each day the offence continues, or
(b) in the case of a corporation—$2,200,000 and, in the case of a continuing offence, a further penalty of $275,000 for each day the offence continues.
The terms 'biosecurity matter', 'carrier', 'biosecurity risk' and other important terms are defined in Division 2 of Part 2 of the Act and an explanation is provided in Key terms and definitions.