Agriculture Minister Joe Helper today announced the reinstatement of the Goulburn Valley as Queensland fruit fly (QFF) free.
“QFF was found in Shepparton in early April 2009 and the successful eradication of QFF in the Goulburn Valley is a great relief for local industry,” Mr Helper said.
“Fruit production is a mainstay of the local economy and the presence of fruit fly in the area adds significant costs to industry in relation to the treatment and certification of fruit bound for sensitive interstate and overseas markets."
Mr Helper said while it is fitting to celebrate the reinstatement of the Goulburn Valley as QFF free, last week’s outbreak in Mildura demonstrates why Victorians must remain vigilant keeping fruit flies out of the Fruit Fly Exclusion Zone and the Greater Sunraysia Pest Free Area.
“Random roadblocks are operating in regional Victoria and substantial fines can apply if uncertified host produce is taken into an exclusion zone,” he said.
“Fruit should be consumed before entering these zones, or placed in the roadside bins provided.
“Eradicating the Shepparton outbreak has involved a lengthy program of baiting, searching and fruit removal from back yards by the Department of Primary Industries (DPI), and would not have succeeded without the cooperation of Shepparton residents."
DPI Plant Standards Field Services Manager Bill Ashcroft thanked Shepparton residents for their cooperation during the QFF eradication program and said the community plays a major role in controlling QFF.
“Stone fruit and tomatoes are the main target for fruit flies at this time of year and Victorians can play a major role in controlling this pest by disposing of old and fallen fruit in home gardens, harvesting and consuming fruit as soon as it ripens, and leaving no ripe fruit on trees,” Mr Ashcroft said.
“These are all practices which deprive fruit fly of sites to lay their eggs and, if widely followed, will deprive QFF of anywhere to establish.
“Outbreaks are much more difficult to control where there are poorly-maintained backyard fruit trees, so it’s important that these trees are managed properly."
Home-grown fruit should not be moved from the property unless it has been cooked.
To kill any fruit fly eggs or maggots in the fruit prior to disposal in the rubbish bin, unwanted fruit can be stewed, frozen for two days, or placed in a sealed plastic bag and left in the sun for five to seven days.
Further information is available from the DPI Customer Service Centre on 136 186 or the DPI website at www.dpi.vic.gov.au/psb