Australia’s plant protection chief visits Fiji to advance biosecurity networks

By Melissa Coade

March 21, 2022

Biosecurity in the Pacific is on the agenda for Dr Gabrielle Vivian-Smith. (AAP/Mary Evans/Ardea/Ake Lindau)

Biosecurity in the Pacific is on the agenda for Dr Gabrielle Vivian-Smith, who is meeting with plant health representatives in Fiji.

Vivian-Smith, who is Australia’s chief plant protection officer, has travelled to Fiji as part of a regional program under the Commonwealth Biosecurity 2030 strategic roadmap. In a statement, she said the roadmap’s main goal was to strengthen national and regional engagement with key international bodies on biosecurity issues.

“We will meet with representatives from the Fijian government’s Ministry of Agriculture, including visiting their biosecurity laboratories, and engage with staff from the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji and the Pacific Community,” Vivian-Smith said, adding that ties made with the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Program (PHAMA Plus) would also be reinforced.

During her visit, Dr Vivian-Smith will meet with the Australian High Commissioner to Fiji and Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade colleagues based in Suva.

The Department of Water and the Environment (DAWE) has also lined up with the executive committee of the Pacific Plant Protection Organisation (PPPO), building on virtual Talanoa sessions held monthly between PPPO members.

Vivian-Smith said regional cooperation on plant biosecurity was the best way to protect Australia from exotic plant pests.

“I look forward to deepening existing relationships and forging new partnerships in Fiji to deliver capacity development activities both in Fiji and in neighbouring countries in the Pacific region. 

“The Pacific engagement program will strengthen biosecurity systems of our near neighbours and enhance regional plant health networks,” she said. 

DAWE’s Pacific engagement and international plant health director Dr Sophie Peterson also travelled to Fiji as part of the delegation.


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