Request for Ships to leave port early as Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle spreads

According to the DoB, over 100 coconut plants in areas around Port Vila have been infected by CRB following its spread from Mangaliliu in north Efate

All domestic ships are requested to leave Port Vila port early from now on to stop Coconut Rhinoceros Beetles (CRB) from getting attracted by the ship’s lights at night and transported from Efate to other islands.

The request to shipping companies and agencies was made by the Acting Assistant Plant Health Pathology of the Department of Biosecurity (DoB), Bill Garae, in a press conference yesterday.

Efforts to contain the CRB infection at Mangaliu in north Efate since the detection of its incursion has not been successful.

The dangerous beetle has spread from Mangaliliu to the areas of Tutuk, Bukura and now to new areas such as Melektri in Port Vila. So far, over 100 coconut plants in these areas are reported to have been impacted by CRB.

“I regret to say that the DoB has stretched its resources and put all efforts into stopping the spread of CRB but it has now reach Port Vila,” Garae conveyed in the presence of the Director General (DG) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, Forestry and Bio-security (MALFFB) and Directors of various departments under the ministry.

“Vanuatu is now in the stage of controlling CRB but it is failing on Efate.

“I am calling onto other islands, particularly major productive islands to start preparing on what to do with the dangerous pest. Get information from nearby Biosecurity offices and educate yourself about the pest.”

Stopping CRB from spreading to other islands through the main ports of entry is unpredictable, the Acting Assistant Plant Health Pathology said.

Apart from limited human resource and shortage of funds, the DoB is facing difficulties with sanitation which include plantation management, he said.

“Some plantation owners refuse to allow us to do sanitation in their plantations within the infected areas.

“We (DoB) are calling onto everyone in Port Vila to clean-up their backyards. Backyard gardening can become breeding sites for CRB when you do not clean them up. Remove rotten logs and compost to prevent CRB breeding.

“Since rhinoceros Beetle is also attracted to chicken manure, the DoB will be imposing a temporary ban on the movement of chicken manure out from any poultry site within the infected areas.

“Internal quarantine will be enforced and a paper is being developed to get a new ministerial order to declare the areas as quarantine zone.”

Garae said everyone must take the advice concerning the prevention of rhinoceros beetle seriously.

According to the DG of MALFFB, Moses Amos, funds will be made available from the supplementary budget to support ongoing efforts of CRB containment on Efate.

“Furthermore, approximately Vt30 million from EDF11 is put aside for areas as surveillance and border control staring next year,” he added.

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