13 Feb 2020

Vanuatu confirms invasive coconut rhino beetle spread

3:47 pm on 13 February 2020

Officials in Vanuatu have confirmed the invasive coconut rhinoceros beetle has spread to areas outside of north Efate.

Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle.

Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle. Photo: Vanuatu Daily Post

An official from the Department of Bio-Security told the Vanuatu Daily Post that an emergency order had been issued declaring Moso Landing, Mele Bay, and Klem's Hill as quarantine zones.

Evidence of the beetle had also been found at Prima.

The emergency order was signed by the caretaker Agriculture Minister Matai Seremiah and is effective until April 2020.

The resurfacing of the dreaded beetle comes after a state of emergency last July covering areas, where the beetle was first discovered to have infested coconut plantations.

The order was supposed to end in August but was extended until October as efforts were made to destroy the breeding sites of the beetle.

The orders encourage all government agencies, including police and the Office of the Maritime Regulator, to assist the Department of Biosecurity in their work and allows for emergency funding and the establishment of quarantine zones.

The beetle threatens to destroy coconut plantations, which would have a devastating effect on the local industry.

Last October, about 30 beetles infused with a virus were released in Vanuatu as a method to control the spread of the pest.

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