PESTS: early warning detection system placed at Port of Mackay.
PESTS: early warning detection system placed at Port of Mackay.

New trial to net exotic pests at port

IN A Queensland first, an 'early warning' detection system has been placed in the water at the Port of Mackay to find any traces of exotic marine pests

Biosecurity Queensland has partnered with Queensland Port Authorities to deploy specially-designed detectors in the waters at the Ports of Mackay, Cairns, Townsville, Gladstone and Brisbane - all close to natural heritage areas.

Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert said: "This partnership demonstrates that our port authorities are taking shared responsibility for marine biosecurity seriously."

The cutting-edge technology tests DNA from marine life growing on structures and collected in plankton from port waters.

It aims to detect traces of exotic marine species including Asian green mussel, black striped false mussel, Asian bag mussel, brown mussel, Harris mud crab, Chinese mitten crab and Japanese seaweed.

Agriculture Minister Mark Furner said the system would be used in a year-long surveillance trial.

"Deploying this kind of system is an exciting first. The first set of arrays will be taken out of the water after eight weeks and we'll see what they've found," he said.

"If there are any signs of marine pests, this early warning will allow us to respond as quickly as possible."