Cooks Authorities To Closely Inspect All Containers From Samoa

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Biosecurity Service concerned about Giant African Snail infestation

By Losirene Chand

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, March 17, 2016) – A large number of shipping containers will be inspected by Biosecurity Service Cook Islands at Avatiu Port today in an effort to calm biosecurity fears over a serious agricultural pest.

Biosecurity Service director Ngatoko Ta Ngatoko said the 77 containers came from the port of Apia in Samoa

Samoa is said to be a biosecurity risk port, due to the presence in the country of the Giant African Snail Achatina fulica, or patito enua.

The snail is currently widely spread all over the town of Apia and worst of all on the wharf area. It is considered a potentially serious pest, an invasive species that could adversely affect agriculture, natural ecosystems, human health and commerce.

"The containers were picked over the weekend by the vessel Liloa on voyage 47 and the ship is expected to arrive this morning. We should start inspection from 8am," Ngatoko said.

The containers were scheduled to arrive a week ago but were offloaded in Samoa waiting for another ship to move them across to Rarotonga.

"The exercise is a biosecurity precautionary measure and with this we have also activated our contingency plan for when a situation such as this arises.

"Samoa is a biosecurity risk port due to this pest patito that is not here on Rarotonga and has not been reported on our sister islands."

Biosecurity staff met with port officials to discuss the situation yesterday. They also met with stevedores and shipping agencies to discuss how best they will handle the inspection without causing delays in the distribution of containers, as well as the safety of everyone while working around the port site.

Ngatoko said the Biosecurity Service was asking customers to bear with them today and apologised for any inconvenience caused.

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