At the end of January, KVH chief executive Barry O’Neil visited Sydney Fruit Fly University Researchers. He travelled with MPI’s GIA Manager Steve Rich. They met formally with the Australian National Fruit Fly Council to better understand the issues and approach Australians are taking in the control of Queensland Fruit Fly (QFF). Barry and Steve also wanted to identify areas for collaboration, including joint research efforts for combined interests in the battle against QFF.
Barry says: “QFF is the No 1 risk on our industry’s unwanted biosecurity threat list. Last year we entered into a partnership with MPI and other horticulture sectors to ensure we are doing everything we can to continue to keep New Zealand QFF-free. This agreement is not just about being fully ready to respond, but also looking at how we can improve our current approach”.
He says it’s naturally not a scenario anyone wants to entertain, but if New Zealand ever ended up with a large breeding population of QFF the Australian experience would prove valuable. “We would need to consider use of sterile males as is happening in Australia, and is common practice around the world in countries were fruit fly present.”
Female fruit fly only mate once, so once large numbers of sterile males are released the population collapses.
Meetings at Macquarie University ARC Centre for fruit fly research and the Elizabeth Macarthur Agriculture Institute, which currently rears the sterile males, provided a better understanding of the role sterile males could play in a New Zealand eradication program in the future and the arrangements that would be needed.