SI joins training on aquatic biosecurity

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The coconut industry in the SI is under siege. The Rhinoceros beetle has been proven difficult to eradicate

SOLOMON Islands is among 19 quarantine, biosecurity and aquaculture officers from across the Pacific who are attending a workshop in Noumea, New Caledonia this week.

The workshop is part of an effort to strengthen aquatic biosecurity in the Pacific Island countries and territories.

Aquatic biosecurity is a system of standardized protocols and measures to deal with biological risks in aquatic environments, such as the risk of diseases and the risk of invasive species.

Good aquatic biosecurity measures are vital to maintaining healthy animals, reducing the risk of acquiring diseases in aquaculture facilities and harvesting of high quality yield.

The Aquatic Biosecurity Planning workshop (24-28 April), organised by the Pacific Community (SPC) aims to build the capacities of participants on general aquatic biosecurity including import risk analysis for live aquatic organisms, quarantine operations and facilities for live aquatic organisms, guidelines for certification and inspection of quarantine facilities for live aquatic organisms, health certification and emergency preparedness.

One entire day of the workshop will also be devoted to raising awareness on animal diseases, diagnosis, surveillance and official reporting requirements under the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE).

“Farmed aquatic species should be healthy and free from diseases and pests and this workshop aims to provide the skills and knowledge needed to achieve sustainable development of the aquaculture sector while safeguarding human health, our environment and respective national economies,” SPC Aquatic Biosecurity Specialist, Ruth Garcia Gomez, said.

“It is also important to ensure that the highly biodiverse and rich aquatic ecosystem of the Pacific region should be preserved and the introduction and spread of invasive and aquatic species prevented,” Ms Garcia Gomez added.

During this sub-regional training workshop, participants will discuss and agree on the main components of their respective National Aquatic Biosecurity Strategies, and steps for the implementation of these strategies will be assessed.

Participants will also undertake field visits to the New Caledonian Technical Aquaculture Centre based in Bouloupari and the National Veterinary Laboratory in Port Laguerre.

The quarantine, biosecurity and aquaculture representatives attending the workshop are from Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.

The week-long workshop is an activity funded by the New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Trade Aid Programme under the Sustainable Pacific Aquaculture Development project and is being held at SPC’s Headquarters.

In the Solomon Islands, several invasive species have proven hard to eradicate. This includes Rhinoceros beetles which is a huge threat to the coconut industry and the African Giant Snail.