Invasive species by sea: What can be done?

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Contributed by Roger Day and Melanie Bateman from Rome

One major cause of pest spread- sea shipment containers- was a key discussion topic on the first evening of the IPPC’s week-long annual meeting, the CPM8. With over 35 million sea shipments each year, regulation is both crucial and extremely complex.

“The complexity of the situation is such that the EU doesn’t hold a common position on the issue,” noted the EU delegate yesterday. One suggestion was to conduct a survey to clarify the nature and extent of the problem, but even that’s complex.  “Surveys can be difficult, and one on sea containers gives me a headache just thinking about it” said the delegate from New Zealand who is the steward for the proposed standard.

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Delegates convene in Rome

But in urging delegates to keep striving for a solution he added that “this is about the guts of the convention.”

The IPPC has already held extensive consultations with relevant international bodies and private sector organisations, and even though sea shipment standards are still in draft, it was agreed that “a lot has already been achieved.”  Industry guidelines have already included procedures to address pest risks. In an unintentional pun (in translation), the DRC delegate urged now was the time “we need to get everyone on board.”

The discussion continued until nearly 10pm. So do we still need further international standards for sea shipment, and if so, what should it cover, and how could it be practically implemented?  The Standards Committee’s work continues…

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