Biosecurity's Coen centre gives vital info to tourists
Tourists passing through Queensland’s iconic Cape York are armed with vital information on how to protect this unique area and the rest of Queensland from plant and animal pests and diseases.
Biosecurity Queensland’s Coen Information and Inspection Centre has once again recorded a bumper winter tourist season with more than 200 southbound vehicles passing through daily – and more than 17,280 vehicles through the centre so far in 2017.
According to Biosecurity Queensland’s centre manager Scott Templeton, the centre staff share biosecurity awareness messages for tourists and residents about the critical role they play in preventing the movement of pests and disease.
“Our message for tourists heading up into the Cape is to be mindful of not introducing something that is not present already,” Mr Templeton said.
“For those returning from their adventures, we urge them not to carry any plant material that can harbour pests or diseases which could harm our agriculture or environment further south.
“If they spot something unusual, we urge them to take a photo, record the location and contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 as soon as they can.”
Biosecurity Zones have been established to prevent movement of agricultural pests present in Cape but not yet present in agricultural areas south. Vehicles may be inspected to ensure they aren’t carrying items that could pose a threat such as plants, fruit or vegetables.
At this time of year mangos are fruiting on the cape and it is tempting to take some for the trip, however these can harbour pests such as red banded mango caterpillar. The caterpillar is likely to have a serious impact on commercial mango production, but is currently confined to northern Cape York Peninsula.
“The message to the travelling public and those living north of the Cape York Biosecurity Zones 1 and 2 is not to move mangoes as the red banded mango caterpillar poses a significant threat to our horticulture industry,” Mr Templeton said.
“Fruit and vegetables that can host pests and diseases are best eaten or given to an inspector at the centre before people continue their journey south.
“Amnesty bins are located near the roadside, so that plant material can be left at the centre by people travelling through after hours.
“Stowaways, pests such as bees, ants and weeds may also try to hitch a ride. It always pays to be vigilant.
“Ensuring vehicles, trailers, quad bikes, camping gear and shoes are free from plant material and soil before entering or leaving Cape York is good biosecurity practice.
“Everyone can play their part in protecting Queensland form the spread of pests and diseases.”
To support the efforts of centre staff and to complement information available on the department’s website, Biosecurity Queensland has launched an updated information booklet detailing what people should be on the lookout for during their visit to Cape York.
“This 25-page, full colour booklet provides details about some of the high priority animal and plant pests and diseases, and offers handy advice on how visitors can play their part to prevent the spread of these threats,” Mr Templeton said.
Image: Scott Templeton at Biosecurity Queensland’s Coen Information and Inspection Centre with the new visitor booklet