Warning over Kimberley medfly find

STAFF REPORTERThe West Australian

The discovery of a Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly) in a Department of Agriculture and Food monitoring trap at a Wyndham caravan park has prompted a warning to Kimberley travellers.

The Department has about 100 traps throughout the Ord Valley, town of Kununurra and the port of Wyndham which are monitored weekly for insect pests.

Department senior research officer Bill Woods said safeguarding the Ord River Irrigation Area's (ORIA) freedom from Medfly was important for the local industry because the pest could have widespread impact on the area's horticulture businesses.

"The ORIA is one of the most productive agricultural regions in Australia and is free of Medfly, enabling good interstate and overseas market access," Mr Woods said.

"The Medfly find indicates travellers may be taking infested fruit such as backyard citrus into the north of the State from southern areas, against regulations," he said.

"When people take fruit such as citrus into the ORIA, maggots can develop inside seemingly undamaged fruit, and the pest could subsequently take hold in the region.

"If several Medfly were found in Kununurra, the region could lose its area freedom which would significantly impact the mango industry through extra disinfestation costs."

Fruits and some vegetables are prohibited entry into the ORIA from 1 April to 30 November to protect the local industry.

With the tourist season well underway in the Kimberley, more people are travelling into the area from the south of the State.

Medfly is common in WA from Carnarvon southwards.

Mr Woods also reminded interstate travellers of restrictions that prevent fresh fruit and vegetables from being brought into WA.

People must dispose of these foods before reaching the WA border or at quarantine road checkpoint or face fines.

Honesty bins are located at airports, caravan parks and other locations for travellers to safely dispose fruit that may have been brought in by accident.

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