Survey to review environmental impacts of Arbovirus Control - deadline 30th September

The Victorian Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations are under review and the proposed changes will operate for the next 10 years. Public comments and submissions are being accepted up to 30 September 2019. In particular, the proposed regulations for Arbovirus Control could have widespread environmental impacts that are not currently acknowledged in the regulations.

Arbovirus Control covers the control of mosquitoes to prevent disease transmission to humans and is currently limited to measures that interrupt the breeding cycle at the larval stage, typically using larvicides in wetland breeding sites. The proposal gives greater powers to councils by:

  • Allowing the application of adult mosquito control measures to public land, typically via spraying of synthetic pyrethroids.

  • Enforcing residents and land owners to reduce adult mosquito populations by source reduction (removing pools of water) and engaging a pest controller to apply insecticides to the property.

  • Considering all species of mosquito to be a disease risk, present or future. A definitive link between mosquitos and disease transmission would no longer be required to justify control measures.

  • Extending the definition of a disease vector so that infectious disease control measures can be applied to any animal, not just mosquitoes.

The proposed regulations make no acknowledgement of the environmental impacts from the use of insecticides to control adult populations of mosquitoes. The synthetic pyrethroids typically used for this purpose in Australia are highly toxic to a broad range of insects and aquatic organisms, and are already at dangerous levels in a large number of Victorian wetlands. Extending the use of these chemicals, without careful environmental assessment is a threat to biodiversity and the broader ecology. The high mortality of insect pollinators that will accompany the use of these insecticides should also be assessed in terms of its impact on agriculture and the beekeeping industry.

A detailed risk assessment is stipulated by the Victorian government’s "One Health" approach, WHO guidelines and the UN Precautionary Principle, which Australia has ratified. However according to the DSE’s own Framework for Mosquito Management in Victoria, environmental risk assessment associated with mosquito management has not been clearly developed in Victoria.

Please consider completing the online survey or writing a formal submission to highlight these concerns before the 30 September 2019 deadline.

Paul Green

On behalf of the Woodend Bee-Friendly Society and Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group

0437 751 120.

WBFSDavid Gormley-O'Brien