Aussie fruit exports to Asia at risk if fruit fly comes to Tasmania — experts

February 22, 2016 11:02 am 

MELBOURNE, Feb. 22 — Australia's Tasmanian fruit exports to Asian markets could be under threat if climate change brings the fruit fly into the island state.

Fruit growers and a biosecurity scientist have warned exporters that millions of dollars worth of produce could soon be in jeopardy if climate change continues to create fruit fly-friendly conditions in Tasmania.

Apple grower Tim Reid said major importers in lucrative markets in China and Japan could turn away Tasmanian produce if the fruit fly makes its way across the Bass Strait.

"If we have an outbreak of fruit fly in Tasmania it will exclude us immediately from all our major export markets," Reid told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

Professor Anthony Clarke, a fruit fly expert with the national Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre, said as Tasmania's climate continues to change, the risk of a fruit fly infiltration grows.

"(Having) slightly warmer conditions all season long increases the risk that a small fruit fly population can establish," Clarke said on Monday.

"A reduction of even two or three really hard cold days in winter increases the chances of fruit fly surviving during the winter period."

Fruit flies eat through the skin of fruit and lay larvae inside, rendering it inedible.

Phil Pyke from Fruit Growers Tasmania said growers were particularly worried about how it will affect their business going forward.

"Growers are very nervous," Pyke told the ABC.

"Since it became endemic in Victoria the risks are really increasing." (PNA/Xinhua)



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