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Managing materials that may carry fire ants

Changes to the Biosecurity Regulation 2016 for fire ants came into effect on Wednesday 27 May 2020.

These changes provide extra protection to areas that have undergone the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program's eradication activities, and reduce the chance of the pest spreading by the movement of infested material such as soil, gravel, mulch and hay.

The key changes are:

  • 2 fire ant biosecurity zones instead of 3 (zones include new suburb areas where fire ants have been found previously)
  • new soil movement guideline clarifies how you can meet your general biosecurity obligation (GBO) when working with soil
  • updated risk mitigation strategies to guide you when working with material that may carry fire ants (may reduce the need to apply for a biosecurity instrument permit).

Find out more or join the conversation on the fire ant zones engagement hub.

Under the Biosecurity Act 2014, individuals and organisations whose activities involve the movement or storage of fire ant carriers will have a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take all reasonable steps to ensure they do not spread fire ants.

The Biosecurity Regulation 2016 prescribes procedures that you must follow when moving or storing a fire ant carrier. Specific provisions are not provided for all situations and there is flexibility to find better ways of managing risks.

Fire ant carriers include:

  • soil (e.g. fill, clay, scrapings, and any material removed from the ground at a site where earthworks are being carried out)
  • mulch
  • animal manures
  • baled hay or straw
  • potted plants
  • turf
  • other carriers including
    • composted material
    • material that is a product or by-product of mining or quarrying (e.g. gravels, sands).

This guide outlines the procedures you must follow when moving or storing fire ant carriers and provides practical steps on how to avoid inadvertently spreading fire ants.