A plant pest is a disease causing organism or an invertebrate which threatens agricultural production, forestry or native and amenity plants.
A plant pest is considered an Emergency Plant Pest (EPP) when it is either:
Emergency plant pests are also referred to as exotic plant pests.
If an EPP was to become established in Australia it could have severe impacts on agricultural production, native flora and trade access. Early detection and reporting is key to successfully eradicating an EPP. The earlier an EPP is discovered and reported, the less chance it has to reproduce and spread.
The simplest way of detecting EPPs is to know what is 'normal' and, by contrast, what is 'suspicious'. Be aware of your neighbourhood and if anything changes unexpectedly. Monitor crops, keep records and educate staff on common pest problems so that if anything new or suspicious shows up it can be brought to attention.
People working in agricultural sectors are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the High Priority Pests relevant to their industries, make them known to staff, and include them in surveillance activities to improve chances of early detection.
Plant Health Australia has compiled lists of High Priority Pests for their member plant industries. These are known pests overseas that are recognised as having high damage potential to particular industries if they were to become established in Australia.
All suspect pests can be reported through the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline 1800 084 881.
In NSW, calling the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline will divert you to Biosecurity NSW, a division of the NSW Department of Primary Industries. All calls are taken seriously and treated confidentially.
Photos and information to accompany your hotline report can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In NSW, hotline callers will be presented with a number of options and should select the option for reporting an exotic pest of plants. The hotline is monitored during business hours and callers should leave a message with details of:
A hotline attendant will return your call to ask additional questions if required before guiding you on how to proceed. Investigation of the suspect EPP can start with as little as a sending in a photo or sample, or having a Department Officer visit the property.
Identification an EPP must be confirmed by a two separate diagnostic laboratories before any control action is taken. A temporary quarantine zone restricting movement of material may be established while awaiting confirmation of the suspect EPP.
Once an EPP is confirmed, notification is provided to state and national governments as well as affected industries. An official response according to a nationally approved Response Plan may occur. For an EPP in NSW, NSW DPI will take the lead. Grower involvement is central to an effective EPP response. NSW DPI will work with growers through all stages of the response. Strict rules for confidentiality are in place to protect individual growers.
Growers are encouraged to report EPPs regardless of the effect a response may have on their production. The short term effects of an EPP response are highly preferable to the long term management costs that would be suffered if the pest became established.