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Biosecurity australia advice 2009/24 policy review: importation of rainbowfish for ornamental purposes

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2 October 2009


This Biosecurity Australia Advice (BAA) seeks stakeholder comments on the Scientific Review of the Biosecurity Risks Associated with the Importation of Rainbowfish for Ornamental Purposes and on proposed quarantine measures for red rainbowfish (Glossolepsis incisus) that are based on the scientific review. Comments would be appreciated by 6 November 2009.

Australia currently allows the importation of some species of ornamental fish, subject to quarantine measures established by an import risk analysis (IRA) of ornamental finfish completed in 1999. The species include those that the Australian Government Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) had included on its List of specimens suitable for live import under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act 1999).

As a result of DEWHA adding Glossolepis incicus (red rainbowfish) to its list of approved specimens, Biosecurity Australia announced a policy review of the biosecurity risks associated with the importation of rainbowfish (Family Melantotaeniidae) for ornamental purposes on 30 March 2006 (Biosecurity Australia Policy Memorandum 2006/07). At the time, Biosecurity Australia invited expressions of interest from individuals or organisations with expertise in aquatic animal health to assist with the review. Panaquatic® Health Solutions Pty Ltd (Panaquatic) was subsequently appointed to provide a risk assessment report, identifying, describing and assessing the pests and disease agents associated with rainbowfish.

Panaquatic’s report, Scientific Review of the Biosecurity Risks Associated with the Importation of Rainbowfish for Ornamental Purposes includes a comprehensive review of diseases associated with rainbowfish as well as information on the rainbowfish sector of the ornamental fish industry in Australia and overseas. The review did not cover diseases present in rainbowfish that were previously assessed in the 1999 IRA of ornamental finfish. Biosecurity Australia has reviewed Panaquatic’s report and relevant scientific literature on rainbowfish including pests and diseases since the report was finalised in 2007. Although recognising scientific information on disease agents of rainbowfish is limited, the review did not identify any pests or diseases associated with red rainbowfish that were not already identified in Australia. Based on these findings, Biosecurity Australia proposes the general quarantine measures for ornamental fish will apply to live red rainbowfish (Glossolepis incicus), which include:

  • Pre-export quarantine for two weeks in premises approved by the exporting country’s competent authority

  • Veterinary certification

  • Inspection on arrival

  • Post-arrival quarantine for one week in quarantine premises approved the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS).

For further details see AQIS Import Conditions Database:

Rainbowfish imported under these conditions must be of a size that can be identified to species level.

The Scientific Review is available from Biosecurity Australia’s website at A hard copy of the documents can be requested from the contact officer below. A copy of the 1999 IRA on which the import conditions are based is also available from Biosecurity Australia’s website.

The draft conditions only apply to red rainbowfish (Glossolepsis incisus). As the review considered the biosecurity risks associated with all members of the family Melanotaeniidae, there would be no need for another quarantine review should DEWHA approve other species of the family Melanotaeniidae for importation under the EPBC Act, unless the quarantine risks change. Comments on the review and proposed quarantine measures should be submitted by 6 November 2009 to Biosecurity Australia at the following address:

Animal Biosecurity
Biosecurity Australia
GPO Box 858


An electronic version of submissions would be appreciated. Biosecurity Australia will consider all stakeholder comments as it finalises the policy review.

Please pass this notice to other interested parties. If those parties wish to be included in future communications on this matter they should get in touch with the contact officer (details below). Information on risk assessments and policy reviews being conducted by Biosecurity Australia is available from our website


Stakeholders are advised that, subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 and the Privacy Act 1988, all submissions received in response to BAAs will be publicly available and may be listed or referred to in any papers or reports prepared on the subject matter.

The Commonwealth of Australia reserves the right to reveal the identity of a respondent unless a request for anonymity accompanies the submission. Where a request for anonymity does not accompany a submission the respondent will be taken to have consented to the disclosure of their identity for the purposes of Information Privacy Principle 11 of the Privacy Act 1988.

The contents of a submission will only be treated as confidential if they are marked ‘confidential’ and can be classified as such in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 1982.


General Manager

Animal Biosecurity
Contact officer: Dr Kally Gross

Tel: +61 2 6272 4807

Fax: +61 2 6272 3399


Post: GPO Box 858 (18 Marcus Clarke St) Canberra ACT 2601 Location: 7 London Circuit Tel +61 2 6272 3933

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