TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN WITH IMPORTING ORNAMENTAL FISH.

I am informing all readers of this email, that Biosecurity Australia has just finalized their draft on all imported Iridoviruses affecting all imported ornamental finfish in the varieties of all Cichlids, all Gouramis, and all Livebearers. They have had this on the watch for almost 3.5 years and have now released the final draft report to us on 23/7/10, and have given Industry until 23/8/10 to respond to their findings.

Their final report recommends that all Cichlids, all Gouramis, and all Livebearers as well as all Betta spp, and paradise fish species are also in the batch-testing procedures and each will have to be batch-tested post arrival in Australia for a group of so-called megalocytiviruses all on the species mentioned above, and yet, there is no test for megalocytiviruses anywhere in the world and these viruses are not on the O.I.E. register as diseases of quarantine concern. They currently use a PCR test to determine if any imported species mentioned above have any of these megalocytiviruses attached to them. There is no mention in their very lengthy report about how much each batch would cost to be tested, but the old adage “user pays” will mean that the costs will be born by all Importers, and on every batch of the above mentioned species, not to mention the lose of the species removed for testing.

That is a big problem for all Importers and for everyone within the Aquarium Industry, BUT, that is not the major shock. The problem lies in the fact that there is a sliding scale of how many species are removed for testing from each batch of fish that is imported. If an Importer brings in 20 Discus varieties, or 20 Frontosa species (at a minimum of 12cm) then the authorities will take away and test 19 fish from each batch. If you bring in 50 of any of the fish species mentioned, they will take away 35, if 100, they will remove 45, just to name a few. THIS KIND OF IMPOST WILL NOT BE ABLE TO BE BORN BY ALL SMALLER AND EVEN SOME LARGER IMPORTERS. If you want details log onto the following site, then scroll down until you see Appendix 5 where the sliding scale of batch-tested removal is shown. The site is http://www.daff.gov.au/ba/ira/curren...mental_finfish

If this comes into being, there will be no importsof any Cichlid varieties as the cost would be too exorbitant for any Importer, and that would presumably include the two biggest Importers. So, in its application there will probably be no imports of Discus, Frontosa, Featherfins, Tropheus, Apistogramma, Neolamprologus or any dwarf cichlids for that matter, and just about all smaller operators will close their doors due to such heavy handed approach to our Industry by Biosecurity Australia. This is not the “slim edge of the wedge” it is the “thick edge of the wedge”, and could just about ruin this Industry altogether that have been importing fish for over 100 years, and worth in excess of $450 million P.A.

The person from Biosecurity Australia that you need to contact is Dr. Ramesh Perrera and his email address is Ramesh.Perrera@biosecurity.gov.au and his telephone number is (02) 62724675 and you also need to send your responses to the Minister involved in this whole situation a Mr Tony Burke, and his email address is (now we are in election mode) Tony.Burke.MP@aph.gov.au in Canberra with his personnal email address being www.tonyburke.com.au and his office in Kingsgrove telephone no is (02) 95533800 and his fax no is (02) 95543504. You will need to send off emails, and faxes, and make telephone calls to these two people to make them aware of the damages that their Department (Biosecurity Australia) will do if these measures are implemented. These two people need to be aware of the very serious concern out in “the real world”, and how this will affect all Importers to Australia, and it is your livelihood that is in question here and your voice must be given to these people in order to get Biosecurity Australia to relent and come to the discussion table with Industry people so that a more reasonable outcome can be reached.

Dr. Perrera in discussions with him admitted that this would be devastating for the Aquarium Industry, but that he had a job to do and was going to follow through on the implementation of these batch-testing procedures, even though it may close the doors of a number of Importers “by the stroke of a pen”. He did state that these same principles were recently applied to the Prawn Industry, where they were going to ban the imports of all Prawns and Prawn Products for human consumption, but mainly for Bait, as it was the Bait prawns that go directly into the Wild that could cause outbreaks of IHHNV, White Spot and Yellow Head diseases in the Australian environment, and it could these diseases in the fledgling Prawn Industry in Australia, until the Prawn Importers sent specimens from a locally produced farm to an overseas scientific laboratory to test them for IHHNV, and the other diseases mentioned, and it was soon found that these diseases were already within Australian waterways, and farms.

The result was that once this information was supplied to Biosecurity Australia they soon backed off and did not go ahead with banning the import of Prawns and Prawn Products for both bait use and human consumption. The same will probably need to be done here in Australia, only there are a lot more species in our Industry that needs to be tested and quickly (with the operative word being quickly). Currently, at my latest update, is that PIAA our supposed Peak Industry Organisation, has applied for a lengthening of the time to respond cuurently listed as 23/8/10, in order to give the Industry more time to respond to this final draft report.

Be aware that this will not stop here, as I predict that Goldfish, Tetras and others like Sharks, Barbs and Catfish may be next in line, if Biosecurity Australia is not stopped here, and if this happens we will all be out of work.

IT IS NOW UP TO ALL OF YOU TO BEGIN SENDING YOUR EMAILS,FAXES, AND TELEPHONE CALLS to the two people mentioned above, regards Norm Halliwell.