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Western Australia Ports Win National Biosecurity Awards

Thursday, 07 March 2019 | 00:00

An innovative marine biosecurity surveillance program developed by port authorities in Western Australia and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) has been nationally recognised for its achievements.

The State-Wide Array Surveillance Program (SWASP) received an Australian Biosecurity Award, with a joint win in both the industry and government categories. The awards are a recognition by the Federal Government's Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) of the significant contribution the SWASP is making to Australia's world leading biosecurity status.

The Australian Biosecurity Awards acknowledge individuals and organisations that have made outstanding efforts that reduce the risk of exotic pests and diseases entering Australia.

Image credit: Pilbara Ports Authority

The SWASP program takes samples of marine growth from settlement arrays deployed at ports across Western Australia, extracts their DNA and compares them against a reference library of DNA from known marine pest species. A match indicates the potential presence of that species.

The progam has a large network of 11 port locations spanning 11,000km of WA's coastline, allowing ports to respond more rapidly to a potential invasion of an introduced marine pest.

Pilbara Ports Authority's Environment and Heritage Manager Dan Pedersen said the SWASP provided a robust and cost-effective solution to marine biosecurity surveillance along the vast WA coastline.

“The program successfully demonstrates how WA's port authorities and DPIRD are working together to share the cost and management of the State's marine biosecurity surveillance, ensuring a coordinated response to marine pest incursions,” Mr Pedersen said.

“The practical and flexible design of the SWASP also allows us to continue adapting and integrating emerging technologies so we continue to innovate in this area,” Mr Pedersen said.

In October 2018 the SWASP also won the Golden Gecko Award for Environmental Excellence, which recognises leading practice and innovation in environmental management.
Source: Pilbara Ports Authority

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