16 Mar 2017

Vanuatu developing biosecurity response plan

7:36 am on 16 March 2017

Vanuatu's government is developing a plan to deal with new pests or diseases that threaten the country's environment, crops or animals.

A week long workshop underway and being attended by senior government departments officers will produce the country's first Emergency Response Plan on biosecurity.

Vanuatu's Director of Biosecurity said the country must be prepared to activate a response plan because it was surrounded by threats of unwanted pests and diseases.

Timothy Tumukon cites neighbouring countries including New Caledonia which has a banana bunchy top virus, Solomon Islands and its rhinoceros beetle and melon fly, and Fiji with citrus canker among other pests.

Mr Tumukon also cited Australia with a range of serious pests and diseases, such as fruit fly in Queensland.

He said an incursion of a new pest or disease requires a proper assessment as to whether to activate an eradication or containment plan - this was where the Emergency Response Plan comes in.

In another development, Vanuatu's Biosecurity Director had advised against harvesting volcanic stones from the sea coast of volcanic islands for crushing purposes saying it could have an adverse impact on the environment.

While it was a lucrative business to use crushed stones as sealing chips for roads in the country, Mr Tumukon said the islands' landmass was small and the impact of any harvest would become noticeable overtime coupled with sea level rise.