Asian Gypsy Moth: Australian inspections

Invasive species

Published: 28 July 2014

Asian Gypsy Moth - Australian requirements

The Australian Department of Agriculture (DAFF) recently issued a notice to the industry dated 9 July 2014. In its notice it advised that from 15 July 2014 to 31 October 2014, the DAFF will conduct its annual heightened surveillance regime for managing risks posed by Asian Gypsy Moths. The notice can be found on the Department of Agriculture website.

The first question owners must ask themselves is whether "in the past 24 months the vessel was in any Russian or Far East Port/s between 40° N, 60°N, and west of 147°E during any period between 1 July and 30 September?"

If the answer is "NO" - they will not have to do anything.

If the answer is "YES" - they should read further ...


Australian quarantine (AQIS/DAFF) treats the risk of eggs/moths arriving via vessels travelling from Russian 'far east' ports (and some other ports in that range) very seriously.

Asian Gypsy Moth caterpillars eat more than 1600 types of plant leaves and, in sufficient quantities, can strip 30-metre high trees bare of foliage overnight. They are not present in Australia and Australian quarantine is determined to keep them out. One way the Asian Gypsy Moth could reach Australia is on a ship - and a particular risk is a commercial vessel leaving certain ports at a time of year when Asian Gypsy Moths are prevalent - which is July to September each year. Asian Gypsy Moths are blown out to port areas and anchorages, and are then attracted to brightly lit ships. They lay eggs on containers, the deck, cargoes and on the super structure. Additionally, boxes lying ashore in affected areas may also have received egg deposits.

Asian Gypsy Moth egg laying primarily takes place from June to September in the eastern-most regions of Russia, Japan, Korea and Chinese ports north of Shanghai, so ships coming from those areas have special requirements placed on them by Australian quarantine.

Australian requirements

Australia formally deals with Asian Gypsy Moth quarantine issues via the "Quarantine Pre Arrival Report for Vessels". This form must completed by all masters on arrival into Australia and to complete it in a way that is acceptable, the vessel must have complied with the requirements for Asian Gypsy Moth.

The relevant question is question 5 on the form: "In the past 24 months was the vessel in any Russian Far East Port/s between 40° N, 60°N, and west of 147°E during any period between 1 July and 30 September?"

If the answer to this question is yes, question 5a) enquires whether "since the last visit to any Russian port was the vessel inspected and cleared by an agricultural authority in Australia, Russia, Canada, New Zealand or the USA as free of Asian Gypsy Moth?". If it was, the DAFF requires a copy of the relevant certificate to be sent to them.

How to comply

If your vessel does call at a Russian Far East Port/s between 40° N, 60°N, and west of 147°E during any period between 1 July and 30 September, the following steps should be taken:

  1. before sailing from the respective port, the master via local agent should seek from Russian Agricultural Authority the relevant inspection and thereby obtain the relevant Asian Gypsy Moth certificate.
  2. If the vessel has been granted such a certificate, AQIS will permit entry into Australia (provided it complies with other requirements in relation to matters not relevant to Asian Gypsy Moths).
  3. Prior to arrival to Australia, the master should fill out the "Quarantine Pre Arrival Report for Vessels" and answer Question 5 as "Yes" and provide a copy of the relevant certificate obtained from the Russian Agricultural Authority.

What happens if you do not have the certificate from Russia?

If the vessel does not have that certificate, the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service will not permit the vessel into Australian territorial waters until the owners can arrange an inspection and obtain a certificate. This can be done but usually results in significant costs and delays.

Further information

The DAFF has published a pest alert brochure on their website.
They have also published a fact sheet.

The Association is grateful to James Neill from Aus Ship in Australia for providing this update.