Consolidated Responses for the PAFPNet Discussion for the month of July 2015

Date: 13/07/2015 – 24/07/2015

"Addressing Biosecurity in the Pacific Island countries and Territories"

The PAFPNet topic for the month of July, "Addressing Biosecurity in the Pacific Island countries and Territories (PICTs)" highlighted questions that would help bring to light problematic areas being faced in this industry. The five (5) questions that were presented during the discussion were posed also with the intention of determining the needs for improvement to be better able to shape possible solutions.

Contributors to the discussion had formulated various definitions of the two terms “Biosecurity” and “Quarantine” and were asked to expound on what the terms signified. The forum produced relatively similar classifications of the both terms. Biosecurity was simply depicted as the protection against plant and animal pests and weeds into a new environment. It includes the measures taken to stop the spread or introduction of harmful organisms to human, animal and plant life. Quarantine was outlined as the confinement or strict isolation of specimen(s) (usually exotic) posing either a direct or an indirect threat or risk to existing life forms (native species) in a natural setting. The condition of quarantine confinement is reliant on the notion of whether ships, persons, animals or plants are carrying any sort of infectious or contagious diseases.

The effective and efficient monitoring of border protection against the introduction of exotic pests and diseases in PICTs is impossible to maintain. Discussions had raised key pointers for the inclusion of new pests and diseases with a country’s border. According to members, the increase in international trade and travel (movement of people) is one of the many channels to the high rise entry of various pests and diseases. These channels are considered as a non-deliberate means of border exposure. Moreover, legal importation of goods, animals and plants can be accompanied by pests that may go undetected, sometimes as a result of inadequate checks.

Additionally, illegal importation such as smuggling of prohibited goods was also highlighted as one of the major reasons for border intrusion of diseases. However, various means of exposure were emphasized, including introduction by natural means, a condition deemed uncontrollable. For instance, the wind, ocean and even migratory animals become vessels for transferring various pests and diseases. In the case for migratory animals, this is most commonly found in wild birds that may carry with them the bird flu virus.

Considering the issues posed during the engagement, associates suggested for adequate human and financial resources to be made more available to improve border security. Furthermore, training of staff and quarantine officers on a full range of skills and capabilities related to the safekeeping of our borders was mentioned key to addressing the issue of the lack of staff knowledge and ineffective security implementation. To add on, forming closer partnerships among government, private enterprises, educational and research institutes, as well as the community was deliberated as an effective enforcement element to increase border defence and protection against various pests and diseases.

Lastly, providing the network with the Pest List Database (PLD), most of the members were not aware of its existence. However, many had made mention of its usefulness. According to a comment made on the forum, although the PLD is made available to its users there is still a need for improvement. This database must be constantly updated to help formulate an effective and efficient implementation strategy that will help tackle the border control issue.