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Biosecurity offender faces serious penalties

25 August, 2014

Investigations by the Department of Agriculture on the illegal importation of aquatic plants has resulted in the conviction and sentencing of a Queensland man who now faces time in prison.

The man pleaded guilty to five offences of illegally importing aquatic plants by using false consignee details, decoy packaging and falsely declaring the contents in the Innisfail Magistrates Court last week (22 August).

First Assistant Secretary for Compliance, Raelene Vivian, said biosecurity breaches are treated very seriously and offenders will be held accountable to the law.

"Unacceptable risk" to agriculture

"Illegal imports pose an unacceptable risk to Australia's agricultural and fisheries industries as well as our trade, and this will not be tolerated," Vivian said.

The man was trading as the sole operator of Liverpool Creek Aquariums at the time of the offences and resold the illegally imported plants through an online store. He was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment for the illegal importation, or $3000 and a two year good behaviour bond.

The man and the company were charged with aggravated illegal importation offences under the Quarantine Act 1908.

Vivian said the sentence illustrates that there is little tolerance for those who intentionally breach these laws and reflects the serious nature of the offence.

"Australia enjoys freedom from many harmful pests and diseases that occur in other parts of the world. Our biosecurity system works to manage the risk of extremely harmful diseases such as iridoviruses that have potentially damaging impacts to native species like Murray Cod."

Under the Quarantine Act illegal importation of prohibited goods can result in jail terms of up to 10 years and fines of $340,000 for individuals. In cases of aggravated illegal importation a fine of up to $1.7 million may be imposed on a company.

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