- Outbreak: Australia's worst fruit pest breaches WA border
- Eight suburbs in quarantine zone
- Bug-busters sweep Perth
IN THE wake of a fruit fly outbreak that has damaged Western Australia's trade status and endangered its economy, a Perth family has been busted flying back from Sydney with a staggering amount of prohibited fruit, further risking state biosecurity.
The family's undeclared haul, uncovered by sniffer dog Jackson, included 15 mangoes, 68 bananas, two pineapples, seven ginger bulbs, 6 kilograms of betel nuts, 3 plants and 2 kilograms of plant material.
Mangoes and bananas are known hosts of Queensland fruit fly, and it was only in November that an outbreak of the pest was declared in WA. Previously, it had been one of only three states declared Qfly-free and trading as such.
These fruits are also hosts of Mediterranean fruit fly, a variety firmly established and extremely destructive in WA.
Mangoes can also carry mango scab and mango seed weevil, ginger silver leaf and spiralling white flies, and bananas can carry coffee bean weevil and banana aphid.
Department of Agriculture and Food WA Border Biosecurity acting director Lloyd Mason said this was the largest seizure by the detector dog unit in about three years and posed a considerable quarantine risk to industry.
"If introduced to WA, these pests, weeds and diseases could compromise our national and international markets and devastate the state's agricultural industries," he said.
DAFWA officials said November's outbreak had been likely because of host fruits being smuggled across the border - one infected fruit is all it takes.
Authorities have since worked tirelessly to eradicate the pest from the quarantine zone in Perth's southern suburbs and have implored residents to observe both the quarantine and the state's border security.
The family received a written warning, this being their first offence.
Quarantine amnesty bins are available at Australian airports.
- This story first appeared on WAToday.com.au