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APVMA Response to 7.30 Report story

20 April 2010

Tonight the 7.30 Report canvassed views that pesticide spray drift was responsible for the events at the Sunland Fish Hatchery. Claims were also made that if pesticide and herbicide products were being used properly, the only way this could happen was if pesticide use restrictions, determined by the APVMA, were not adequate.

The APVMA is not a member of the Queensland Government’s Noosa Fish Health Investigation Taskforce set up to investigate and report on events at the Noosa fish hatchery. It does not have official access to the scientific reports provided to Taskforce members.

Like most stakeholders, the APVMA is awaiting the Taskforce’s final report proposed for release in May. The APVMA expects that the report will state the Taskforce’s conclusion whether or not spray drift played a role in the events observed at the hatchery.

Any finding that spray drift caused the problems at the hatchery would cause the APVMA to consider new restrictions on use.

The APVMA notes that in its first interim report the Taskforce found that spray drift was a possible cause of some of the recorded incidents at the Hatchery but no evidence could be found that it actually occurred.

Spray drift is a major concern for the APVMA. It recognised some years ago that spray drift regulation needed to be strengthened and has been working to put more effective regulatory measures in place.  In 2008 the APVMA published a policy document setting out how that would be done and recently published an operational notice showing how new regulatory restrictions and safeguards would be imposed.

Our new spray drift regulatory framework is currently being implemented on all new products. A priority list of older chemicals that will be assessed for spray drift risk has also been published.

Similar moves are being undertaken internationally in response to new research and technological developments. It is fair to say that Australia is at the leading edge of applying these advances in a regulatory context.

The APVMA will closely follow developments from the Noosa Fish Health Investigation and will apply its science-based regulatory powers in the most effective way it can once the facts have been established.

For further information, contact:

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