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Giant snails threaten island crops, ecosystems

By Geraldine Panapasa SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, March 29, 2010) - A CARGO vessel from Pacific Island countries arrived at the Suva Wharf heavily infested with live Giant African Snails on Friday.

The same vessel is said to have arrived at the wharf earlier this month where biosecurity officers intercepted a live Giant African Snail from the vessel.

According to an officer from the Quarantine Division, the vessel was intercepted again on Friday and found to be "heavily infested" with the snail specie.

"The vessel was ordered to anchor out in the middle of the wharf to undergo fumigation," said the officer yesterday.

"They were ordered not to discharge any of their containers at the wharf until the whole vessel was fumigated.

"Snail baits were placed outside the vessel and on the wharf as a precautionary measure before the vessel was fumigated."

Quarantine officers were sent to supervise the fumigation process which included putting poisonous gases into container holes for 48 hours to kill pests and the snails. "These pests exist in countries around the Pacific and with Fiji being the port of entry, we're exposed to one of these pests," said the officer.

Biodiversity director Ilaitia Boa earlier said the snail was not present in Fiji and its establishment could cause significant economic losses for horticultural production.

He said the snail originated from East Africa and is present in most Pacific Island countries. Mr Boa urged all vessels arriving from countries that have the snail species to have their containers cleaned and certified from the relevant quarantine authority of exporting countries.

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