Interim national priority list of exotic environmental pests and diseases

The Invasive Species Council welcomes public consultation on the preparation of a priority list of exotic environmental pests and diseases for Australia and the chance to make a submission.

We support the interim list as the first endeavour to identify environmental risk priorities across all species groups. It is a good starting point for future development of a more comprehensive list of environmental biosecurity risks for Australia.

The priority list will be important to drive preventative biosecurity activities such as import controls, border detection, in-country surveillance and contingency planning.

Stopping a pest or disease from entering Australia is the most practical and feasible way to stop new invasive species from harming our environment. It is usually far cheaper too.

However, prioritisation should not be restricted to just five to seven species per theme, since these are undoubtedly not the only high-risk species. Within all themes, there is likely to be a considerably larger number of high risk species. As discussed in our submission a more comprehensive prioritisation process will yield a more useful set of priorities for a variety of biosecurity purposes.

We see value in grouping species under a broad range of themes, as has been done for this first priority list, and we commend the short profiles about each priority species.

On a minor note, we believe that the definition of ‘exotic to Australia’ (page 7, information paper) should be changed. This use of the term ‘exotic’ is completely different to its use throughout the world. It is commonly accepted that a species can be exotic in Australia irrespective of whether it is under control or not. Any imported animal or plant species not originally native to Australia is an exotic species to Australia. A different term should be used.

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