3 Nov 2010

Container hygiene pact could be extended

10:02 am on 3 November 2010

MAF Biosecurity is hoping to lower the risk of pests and diseases entering the country in shipping containers by extending a container-cleaning agreement it has with some Pacific countries.

Four years ago New Zealand initiated the arrangement to have containers from Samoa, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands cleaned and chemically treated before they're shipped here.

As a result, contamination levels in those containers have been reduced from 70% to 5%.

Australian has now signed up to the agreement with two of those countries, PNG and Solomons.

Paul Hallet of MAF Biosecurity says that as well as widening the agreement to include other Pacific states, it's hoping toextend the arrangement into Asia.

He says the plan is to combine it with a fumigation accreditation scheme that Australia is running in seven countries including Thailand, Philippines and India, with China due to sign up as well.