Carnarvon Mediterranean fruit fly eradication pilot project

Page last updated: Wednesday, 5 September 2018 - 2:31pm

Piloting new techniques to control and eradicate Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly) in Carnarvon is part of the Boosting Biosecurity Defences project led by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) and made possible by Royalties for Regions and Horticulture Innovations Australia.

This project was due to finish 31st December 2017 but was granted an extension until December 31st 2018. There is also a possibilty of a further extension to June 2019 to ensure an effective transition of the project to the local Carnarvon Growers Association Recognised Biosecurity Group.

DPIRD's Carnarvon Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly) eradication pilot project aims to eradicate Medfly and protect the growing Carnarvon horticultural area, which produces over $100 million worth of fruit and vegetables annually.

Eradication of Medfly, or establishment of an Area of Low Pest Prevalence, will potentially reduce grower costs and increase market access both nationally and internationally. Carnarvon’s isolation and limited road access makes eradication and maintenance of pest freedom possible.

The project combines the use of Sterile Insect Technique, area wide foliar baiting, crop hygiene and facilitated community engagement. 

The project also aims to demonstrate the level of traditional and novel control measures, as well as the level of industry and community participation, required to eradicate Medfly

Royalties for Regions project funding

The Carnarvon medfly eradication pilot project is funded by Royalties for Regions and Horticulture Innovation Australia and is planned to run until 31 December 2018 (unless an extension is granted).
The $3.9 million dollar project provides funding for:

  • Maintaining the unique Vienna 7 strain of Medfly bred specifically for SIT
  • Employment of Technical Officers to work in the Sterile Medfly Production Facility
  • Design and construction of the purpose-built Carnarvon Medfly Emergence Facility and sterile Medfly release machine
  • Application of Sterile Insect Technique
  • Employing Technical Officers who monitor Medfly, work on community engagement and manage the sterile release program
  • Vehicle lease and running costs
  • Cost of monitoring for Medfly in over 100 sites across Carnarvon
  • Establishment of a plant hygiene compliance program


Benefits of the project include reduction in on farm expenses, protection of the expanding Carnarvon horticultural area which currently produces over $100 million worth of fruit and vegetables annually, reduction in pesticide usage, less damaged and wasted produce, increased market access, increased availability and quality of local produce, cheaper produce as a result of a decrease in production costs and a potential eradication model for Australian and international areas affected by fruit fly.

Another benefit has been the trials of new technologies. An X-ray irradiation technique trialled in South Perth fly breeding facility to sterilise Medflies for use in Carnarvon has been very successful; it is the first large-scale use of the technique in the world.  X-ray dose and fly competiveness trials have also been completed; x-ray irradiated flies have proved to be more competitive and a greater number can be sterilised more quickly than with current alternative (gamma irradiation).  Mode of transport and packaging and temperature protocols for maximum survival of flies for the journey from South Perth to Carnarvon were also trialled.

The implementation of a Recognised Biosecurity Group (RBG) in February 2016 is another benefit of the project. Along with the support of the Carnarvon Medfly project, the Carnarvon Growers Association (CGA) was approved as an RBG by (then) Minister Baston under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management (BAM) Act 2007 and susequently raised their first rates (see FAQ- Declared Pest Rate). This recognition and rating mechanism enables the CGA RBG to develop and manage their own coordinated approach to pest management into the future - accessing funds collected through a land-based rating scheme which are matched dollar-for-dollar by government.  This model could in future also be applied to monitor for or manage other potential pests. Local ownership and delivery of the program in the future also benefits the local economy and jobs in the longer term.

Contact information

Oonagh Byrne
+61 (0)8 9368 3600