Western Australia will help protect the state’s food, plant and animal industries by hosting a major mock exercise in Bunbury next month.
Exercise Apollo will present a simulated livestock disease emergency over three days and test WA’s response to it.
The exercise is part of a number of activities in the Department of Agriculture and Food to build emergency response capability in staff and in industry.
The exercise will feature 150 government representatives working in both Bunbury and Perth from May 17 to 19.
Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston said it was part of the state government’s commitment to safeguard WA’s agriculture industries.
“When an emergency happens, it can be devastating,” he said.
“We need to learn from incidents across Australia and around the world, to prevent it happening here or to deal efficiently with it, if it does happen.”
Mr Baston cited the equine influenza or horse flu epidemic in Queensland and New South Wales in 2007 where horse transport was prevented, forcing the cancellation of equestrian events and restrictions on horse movements for many months.
Regional Development Minister Terry Redman said Exercise Apollo was part of the $20 million Boosting Biosecurity Defences project made possible by the Royalties for Regions $300 million investment in the Seizing the Opportunity Agriculture initiative.
“Strong and innovative biosecurity defences will contribute to securing the future of WA agriculture by protecting our existing and future markets, and generating flow-on benefits to the regional economy,” Mr Redman said.
The Seizing the Opportunity Agriculture initiative aims to help the agricultural sector to be part of rising global demand and contributes to strengthening regional communities where agriculture is a major economic activity.
Eleven activities are currently being undertaken by the Department of Agriculture and Food WA which will contribute to the improved management of statewide biosecurity risks.
This includes agricultural weed surveillance in the South West to protect industry profitability, awareness and compliance with new biosecurity legislation, piloting new techniques to control and eradicate fruit fly and surveillance and diagnosis for pests and diseases in the WA grape industry.
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