In project FRDC2007/007 and previous studies it was determined that ornamental fish entering Australia may carry pathogens of quarantine concern, specifically gourami iridovirus (GIV) and cyprinid herpesvirus 2 (CyHV2). Ornamental fish are imported under a policy based on a formal Import Risk Assessment (IRA). On the 11/09/08 Biosecurity Australia announced the formal commencement of an Import Risk Analysis (IRA) under the regulated IRA process to review Australia’s freshwater ornamental finfish policy with respect to quarantine risks associated with gourami iridovirus (GIV). Australia has imported a large number of gouramis for many decades. The 1999 IRA considered several species of gouramis and concluded that specific risk management measures were required for these species due to biosecurity risk posed by iridoviruses, including GIV. Australia’s quarantine measures include that gouramis are held in an export premises for a minimum 14 day period prior to export, health certification stating that they are sourced from populations with no known significant clinical disease in the last six months, and that the fish are held in post-arrival quarantine for a minimum of 14 days. These are key features which need to be reviewed. Additional scientific data would enhance the review.
A second impact is that the developing Australian ornamental fish aquaculture industry may be at risk due to introduced pathogens. This is of particular relevance for goldfish, where domestic breeders claim that their stock succumb to diseases such as CyHV2 disease when brought into contact with imported goldfish in wholesale and retail premises. This disease agent was also specifically addressed in the 1999 IRA.
There is need to determine whether GIV and CyHV2 are in fact entering Australia despite quarantine practices, and further, to determine whether either virus is already established in farmed or wild ornamental fish in Australia.