Incursion of rhinoceros beetle into Vanuatu still unclear: Minister Seremiah

Yesterday’s press conference. Photo: Kizzy K

While the Government is responding to the incursion of the coconut rhinoceros beetle, it is also investigating how the pest entered Vanuatu.

There are speculations the beetle got into the country on a vessel carrying aggregate and construction equipment from Papua New Guinea.

However, the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, Forestry and Bio-Security, Matai Seremaiah, said there is no evidence to prove it.

”Firstly, the strains of beetle present in PNG are CRB-S and Guam biotype,” he said.

”The areas in PNG where the machines and aggregation were brought into Vanuatu — Lae and Alatau — do not have rhinoceros beetle.

”Secondly, the Department of Bio-Security have followed procedures to conduct surveillance before import. We have all documents to prove that the machines have been thoroughly checked and treated with chemicals.”

Mr Seremaiah conveyed in a press conference yesterday that the investigation team has not determined so far who gave authorization for the ship to offload directly at Creek Eye and not the designated port of entry.

”The only authority who can issue clearance for offload at Creek Eye is Customs with an agreement from the landowner.

”As far as Bio-security is concerned, we have done our duty,” he said.

Mr Seremaiah said it is high time that the government recognize the role and responsibility of the Department of Bio-Security in minimizing risk at Boarder Control.

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