Blue tongue virus ex­clu­sion zone blow to ex­ports

Broome Advertiser - - News - Peter de Krui­jff

Pas­toral­ists in north­ern WA al­ready strug­gling un­der the bur­den of red tape have a new bar­rier to trade af­ter the blue tongue virus ex­clu­sion zone was ex­panded to Broome Port.

Six ad­di­tional Kim­ber­ley prop­er­ties now fall within the zone, which runs across the top of the North­ern Ter­ri­tory, Queens­land and WA, af­ter the virus was de­tected re­cently in the re­gion’s west.

The buf­fer zone pre­vi­ously ended 100km east of Broome but now in­cludes the port town and stretches 140km south.

Although there have been no ex­ports out of Broome in the past 12 months to coun­tries that re­quire cat­tle to have been held in a blue tongue virus-free zone for 60 days — a list that in­cludes China, Turkey and Is­rael — the body rep­re­sent­ing Kim­ber­ley pas­toral­ists is un­happy with what they see as loss of flex­i­bil­ity in ac­cess­ing mar­kets.

Kim­ber­ley Pil­bara Cat­tle­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man David Stoate said the im­pact might seem rel­a­tively mi­nor but for the in­dus­try but it was good to be able to ac­cess as many mar­kets as it could.

“China is sen­si­tive to blue tongue, so it would make it hard (now) to ac­cess that mar­ket from here,” he said.

Mr Stoate said pas­toral­ists in the Kim­ber­ley used to be able to leave cat­tle at the Roebuck De­pot, which was un­til now out­side the virus ex­clu­sion zone, for 60 days be­fore ex­port.

“When the In­done­sian ban hap­pened, it be­came im­por­tant,” he said. “We can still ac­cess those mar­kets, it just won’t be through Broome.”

Depart­ment of Pri­mary In­dus­tries and Re­gional De­vel­op­ment an­i­mal dis­ease sur­veil­lance man­ager Mar­ion Sey­mour said sta­tions af­fected by the zone change could still ex­port, pro­vided they met the proper re­quire­ments.

“The zone change will re­main un­til two years of sur­veil­lance in­di­cates the virus is no longer be­ing trans­mit­ted within this area,” she said.

Ms Sey­mour said one pos­i­tive of the mon­i­tor­ing was that the reg­u­lar sam­pling of an­i­mals pro­vided a clear pic­ture of where the virus was.

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