Agriculture Minister Ernie Bridge today announced the successful completion of the Queensland fruit fly (Qfly) eradication program in Western Australia.
Mr Bridge said the eradication of a pest on the scale of the Qfly project was a unique achievement in Australian agriculture, and reflected the Government's strong commitment to local horticulture.
"If Qfly had become established, not only would there have been a significant increase in the amount of pesticides used on horticulture crops, but the future of many innovative horticulture projects in WA would have been threatened," he said.
The eradication program commenced in August, 1989, following the discovery in February of Qfly in tomatoes in Dalkeith.
It involved a three-pronged attack using lure traps, baits, and the release of millions of sterile fruit flies, and was one of the largest in the world to be successfully completed.
Mr Bridge said new techniques had to be developed for mass rearing, while a quarantine building to rear the 30 million sterile Qfly required weekly for release had to be built from scratch.
The approach taken was a demanding one, requiring a major commitment from all those involved, especially the Department of Agriculture and the Agriculture Protection Board.
In addition to laying 2,000 traps in the grid area, officers undertook weekly baiting of fruit trees in more than 100,000 households over a 300 square kilometre area in the Perth metropolitan region.
Mr Bridge also paid special tribute to the many property owners who co-operated in the campaign by allowing agriculture officers onto their properties.
The field operations were completed in December 1990, and Mr Bridge said no further captures of wild Qfly associated with the 1989 population had been made since then through the trapping grid.
This period exceeds three Qfly generations, the universally accepted interval for declaring eradication.
Mr Bridge said the project was made more difficult because of the presence of Mediterranean fruit fly in WA. Often what people thought were Qfly were in fact Mediterranean fruit fly.
For the future protection of the horticulture industry, the Department of Agriculture, with industry support, was continuing its surveillance with the maintenance of 1,400 traps in the Perth metropolitan area, 300 traps in country towns, and 50 on farms.
"The successful eradication of Qfly from WA is a unique achievement by Australian and world standards, and the Department of Agriculture, in collaboration with the APB and the WA horticulture industry, has much to be commended for," the Minister said.
The completion of the Qfly campaign also points the way to possible eradication of Medfly in the future.
Such a program would require new and improved eradication technology, as well as the same level of public support and co-operation shown in the Qfly program.
"It would be a much more expensive and difficult operation, but the Qfly success has shown that it could be done," he said.