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DPIRD’s annual Biosecurity Blitz under way

WA’s annual Biosecurity Blitz 2020 is under way, with people of all ages urged to survey their local area and look out for biosecurity threats in their backyard.

Now in its sixth year, the October 19 to November 16 event is run by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.

It aims to encourage the general public to discover as many interesting or damaging pests across the State, using a mobile phone or camera and reporting findings to DPIRD.

This year’s event includes a 30 day challenge to bolster community surveillance and help protect WA’s agriculture and fisheries industries from exotic pests, weeds and diseases.

DPIRD development officer Laura Fagan said the challenged featured a series of activities across a different theme for each week.

“This provides opportunities to explore and discover habitats, plant species, insects and soil organisms that live nearby,” she said.

“Those that sign up and complete the challenge and achieve ‘boffin status’ will win a unique biosecurity prize, sponsored by Plant Surveillance Network Australasia Pacific.”

The annual School Challenge gives teachers and students the chance to get out of the classroom to undertake surveillance and learn more about the importance of biosecurity.

Ms Fagan said the community played an important role on the front line of surveillance in the State’s biosecurity defence system.

“Early detection is imperative to identify the presence of a biosecurity threat that could cost our valuable agriculture industry in terms of lost production and control costs, as well as affect the environment and our outdoor lifestyle,” she said.

“Surveillance is also important to demonstrate the absence and presence of biosecurity threats, to support access to interstate and overseas markets.”

Biosecurity Blitz reports are used to complement the department’s ongoing surveillance efforts and other activities to protect WA from the threat of exotic pests and diseases.

Ms Fagan said DPIRD was engaged in a number of biosecurity responses in WA, including Queensland fruit fly, red imported fire ants, browsing ants and Fall armyworm.

“These responses highlight the importance of surveillance and government, industry and community collaboration to ensure our biosecurity defences are effective and robust,” Ms Fagan said.

“This imperative has been further highlighted this year as part of the International Year of Plant Health 2020, which has the theme ‘Protecting Plants, Protecting Life’.”

People interested in participating in the Biosecurity Blitz 2020 30 Day Challenge or the School Challenge are urged to sign up via the department’s webpage agric.wa.gov.au/biosecurity-blitz at any time before or during the program.

Participants can upload their observations through the department’s free MyPestGuide™Reporter app or through DPIRD’s Biosecurity Blitz webpages.

Images submitted will be analysed by department’s diagnostic experts who will send a response as to what the specimen is and whether it is a biosecurity threat.

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