February 2020 Insights

Published 1 Feb 2020

Vol. 17 | No. 1 | February 2020

Getting better will not be good enough – The wicked problem of biosecurity

Over the past 30 years, Australian seafood industries have been devastated by a steady march of disease outbreaks, often with little or no warning. Each episode has been devastating, and all have starkly illustrated aquatic disease management’s primary challenge: the underwater world has no fences. Given the absence of effective barriers for disease containment in freshwater and marine environments, how can one establish a “firebreak” when an exotic virus or a pest gets in the ocean?

Simply doing what we’ve done in the past, but better, is no longer sufficient. Instead, we need to challenge ourselves to find new ways of thinking and acting on biosecurity [and] we need to change how we fund biosecurity research. The sector approach does not work for addressing the large-scale systems that need to be improved. These changes will demand new ways of thinking that encompass technology, trade policy, whole supply chains, natural ecosystems, and their final intersection at the farm gate.

Over the past 30 years, Australian seafood industries have been devastated by a steady march of disease outbreaks, often with little or no warning. Each episode has been devastating, and all have starkly illustrated aquatic disease management’s primary challenge: the underwater world has no fences. Given the absence of effective…
The biosecurity risks to which Australia’s agricultural sector is exposed are in a state of flux. As the production environment evolves and trade arrangements morph, as tourism increases, climate change implications intensify and as supply chain dynamics become increasingly complex, biosecurity needs are changing markedly. Australia’s biosecurity system is complex…
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