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Townsville Port first to launch high tech marine pest surveillance program

17 September 2019

A marine biosecurity early detection program that utilises cutting edge technology has been launched in Townsville.

The program utilises a DNA analysing program to identify species within the port. The  program included the deployment of four frames in the strategic locations in the Marine Precinct and inner harbour.

The frames remain in place for two months before being removed with samples extracted for DNA analysis.

Manager of Environment and Planning Melinda Louden said that the Port’s participation in leading the program demonstrates the pro-active biosecurity management through cooperation, planning and a balanced perspective.

“Townsville is located in a World Heritage Area, we all have a role to play in the ongoing monitoring and management of this sensitive area.”

“This program provides the opportunity to improve the ability and speed of detection, if a marine pest species manages to slip through the existing controls in place by both the state and federal governments,” she said.

“We are excited to be the first in Queensland to trial this with Biosecurity Queensland, and this shows the direct connection between research and on the ground improvements in management and capabilities within the maritime industry” Ms Louden said.

“We are responsible for maintaining the safe and efficient movement of marine traffic and cargo within our jurisdiction and work in close partnership with our regulatory partners.”

Townsville Port has been conducting marine pest monitoring in the harbour in various forms for more than 18 years,  and is now partnering with Queensland Biosecurity, Department Agriculture and Fisheries in this new approach using DNA analysis.

Townsville is the first of five Queensland ports to implement the program along with Cairns, Mackay, Gladstone and Brisbane.

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