Stink Bug Season 2018/2019: A Review
For those of you affected by this year’s stink bug season you may be breathing a sigh of relief to know that the season has come to an end! That’s right, from the 30th April any cargo shipped from target or high risk countries is no longer subject to stink bug fumigation and inspection. But before you start celebrating, The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources are giving importers, forwarders and ports alike just a four month respite before the season kicks in again.
With this in mind, we bring you this overview where you can review the affects of this stink bug season and learn ahead of the crowd what to expect from 1st September 2019. And it’s not all bad news. The lessons learned from the season has led to the Department planning in advance and addressing some of the issues experienced this year before the current season is even over.
Read on to find out more or download our infographic for key facts.
What is Stink Bug Season?
For those of you new to importing, the Stink Bug Season covers cargo shipped from selected countries into Australia from 1st September to 30th April each year. Up until 2017/18 season the only country this applied to was Italy however an additional 8 countries were added to the target risk list in 2018/19 and 22% of all customs clearance entries in Australia were impacted.
During the season, Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs can arrive in Australia on cargo and in containers. These exotic pests provide a bio-security risk to Australia, impacting agriculture and damaging fruit and vegetable crops across the nation. The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources have been monitoring their activity and increase across European countries and implemented strict bio-security measures to prevent the spread of the bugs in Australia.
This included offshore fumigation for high-risk goods, onshore inspections and fumigation treatment for target risk goods and even lengthy vessel inspections on arrival searching for brown marmorated stink bugs (BMSB) detection.
2018/19 Stink Bug Season – The Numbers
The serious risk of stink bug infestation in Australia resulted in extreme efforts by the department to manage freight activity across the country. This included:
- Assessment of 54,000 customs entries covering 63,000 containers
- 48% of assessments were directed for treatment
- 540 inspections were carried out over 536 vessels
- 3 RORO Vessels were turned away from the port
- 4 Treatment Providers were suspended
The department expressed that tight plastic wrapping around products and containers that were overpacked caused significant issues for treating BMSB.
We also experienced delays of up to a week at Australia fumigation depots whilst the congestion in Europe was even more severe.
Despite the efforts made there were still a massive 201 stink bug detections at the border and 59 post border detections which have now been contained and managed.
It is fair to say the 2018/19 stink bug season had the biggest impact on Australian importers of all previous seasons to date. It was felt by many that the arrangements for the season, including the addition of 8 countries, the approved treatment provider scheme and mandatory LCL (Less-than-Container-Load) and FAK (Freight All Kinds) fumigation offshore, were all cobbled together at very short notice. The Department held meetings to prepare for the season just one month prior and from September 1st we had only 9 approved treatment providers covering three countries.
For ICE, over 35% of our import shipments were affected by stink bug season and the impact on our clients was paramount. Importers out of Italy were affected the most following the suspension of four treatment providers in close succession.
The good news is as we approach the end of this season we currently have 192 approved treatment providers covering 23 countries, although from the proposed measures for 2019/20 it sounds like we are going to need them!
What to expect in 2019/20 Season
So what are the requirements for next year? See our summary below:
- The list of countries has expanded from 9 to 32 Countries
- It is anticipated that the introduction of the additional countries will lead to a 15-20% increase in workload for the department
- The 32 Countries include the addition of most European countries and Canada, you see a full list of affected countries here.
- All offshore providers currently registered will need to re-register for the 2019/20 season. The department will be contacting all providers to facilitate this
- Japan will continue to have heightened vessel surveillance
- Treatment types will remain the same (Heat treatment, Methyl Bromide, Sulphuryl Fluoride) however it is likely that the rates and durations of treatment will increase in line with NZ and other countries
- Tariff codes for high risk and target risk codes will remain the same
- All open tops, flatracks and breakbulk containers will require offshore mandatory treatment
- Six sided FCLs can opt for offshore or onshore treatment
- All LCLs and FAKs will be subject to mandatory offshore treatment as the department have found this too difficult to manage in Australia
- The department will be meeting with Master Consolidators locally from 15th April to explore other options for LCLs and FAKs
- The department is looking at safeguarding arrangements for specific supply chains to improve the BMSB process
- As before, the “in transit” policy applies for any goods on the water when a treatment provider is suspended
- A treatment provider can only be re-instated after meeting the department’s compliance standards
- As before, goods with fraudulent certificates will be directed for treatment or re-export on arrival
Overall, the department recognised the strain on our industry throughout stink bug season. They are currently recruiting for more biosecurity officers and look to increase their resources for next season. ICE are actively taking part in industry sessions and meeting with local suppliers to improve our service to our client base.
One Last Tip
If you have any concerns we will be on hand throughout the season to help. You can also follow our social media pages to stay informed along the way. Remember the more prepared you are prior to arranging your shipment the less impact the stink bug season will have on you.
Click here to download the Stink Bug Season infographic.
Should you have any questions regarding this please contact your ICE team member on 1300 CARGO1.