THE declaration by Victoria and New South Wales that fruitfly controls could be wound back has triggered alarm bells in South Australia's $1 billion horticultural and agricultural industry in South Australia.
SA Fresh Fruit Growers Association chairman Dino Ceracchi says it is imperative SA retains its fruitfly-free status and market freedom.
"Fruitfly would be devastating to our region and the fresh fruit growers here," he said.
Late last month, the Vic Department of Primary Industries said its government had considered declaring the pest endemic, except in the Sunraysia area.
And earlier this week, the NSW DPI said fruitfly exclusion zones in the Riverina area would no longer be funded by the NSW government.
While SA has not had a Queensland fruitfly outbreak since 2007-08, there were Mediterranean fruitfly outbreaks contained in Adelaide suburbs earlier this year.
It is illegal to carry fruits and vegetables into SA, unless they have been certified free of pests and diseases. Offenders face on-the-spot fines of $375.
In the 12 months since May 2012, 26,313-kilograms of fruitfly host material was collected at Yamba (on the SA border between Renmark and Mildura), with 8660.5kg collected at Ceduna and 10,142kg at Oodlawirra, which has restricted winter hours.
Between December 2011 and May 2012, another 3498kg of fruit and vegetables was collected at Pinnaroo.
SA Agriculture Minister Gail Gago said it was essential for SA to remain vigilant and maintain ongoing surveillance efforts to ensure it retained its fruitfly free status and safeguarded its $600million horticultural sector.
"Protecting SA against fruitfly allows our fruit and vegetable growers to access valuable markets and export premium food to the world," Ms Gago said.
"There has not been a fruitfly outbreak in the Riverland since 1991, despite hundreds of fruitfly outbreaks in NSW and Vic."
Ms Gago said the frequency of outbreaks was very low because of roadblocks, signage at entry points, disposal bins on highways and airports, interstate bus and train stations, the cooperation of the public and horticultural industry, and a significant community awareness campaign.
She said the State's fruitfly protection would remain strong, with roadblocks and signage at key entry points including Yamba in the Riverland.
"Legal requirements remain for all commercial consignments entering SA, whereby importers must be registered with Biosecurity SA and transporters must forward all manifests for commercial consignments of fruit, vegetables and plant material to Biosecurity SA prior to the consignments entering the State," she said.
"A number of measures are being taken to ensure that South Australia remains fruitfly-free, including opening the Pinnaroo quarantine station one month ahead of schedule, from November 1, instead of December 1.
"Biosecurity SA's quarantine staff are aware that the risks of fruitfly entering South Australia are now higher.
"This season's fruitfly community awareness campaign will continue the ring of protection of posters at various entry points and tourism outlets with a plea that 'fruitfly is in your hands' - that people can help make a difference."
Shadow agriculture minister Adrian Pederick said if fruitfly was found in the State, it had the potential to devastate the $1b agricultural and horticultural industry.
*Full report in Stock Journal, September 6 issue, 2012.