12 Oct 2020

Coconut Rhino Beetle continues to threaten Vanuatu

5:53 pm on 12 October 2020

The invasive Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle is threatening the main source of income for many in Vanuatu - copra.

Spraying for the CRB in Vanuatu

Spraying for the CRB in Vanuatu Photo: RNZ Pacific / Hilaire Bule

The government just injected $US1.3 million into the sector to stabilise the price but the spread of the CRB was worrying the Department of Bio-security.

Principal Quarantine Officer Touasi Tiwok said last year they had located the beetles in north Efate.

But Tiwok said the beetles were now spreading near the capital of Port Vila.

According to the officer they had been found in Malapoa. They were also located at Vanuatu's biggest village of Mele and in the plantations at Devil's Point

Tiwok said her department was looking at different methods and activities to be able to control the beetles.

She said there was a need to amend current legislation to allow internal quarantine to stop the spread of the CRB.

She wants boarder agencies to work closely together in order to stop the spread from spread further.

"In order to address issues of shipping, issues of other path ways of ships, aircraft and to put in procedures in place for us to be able to reduce the risk of the CRB beetle following this way to other islands."

Tiwok said the department was still working on a biological control which needed to be finalised before being released into the field.

Around 400 traps had also been put out in affected areas.

In August a State of Emergency was extended to deal with the pest.

Infected trunk from Coconut Rhino Beetle

Infected trunk from Coconut Rhino Beetle Photo: RNZ Pacific / Hilaire Bule