CIG fighting imported pests

| 02/07/2014

(CNS): Government officials from the agriculture department and the airport are urging the travelling public both to and from the Cayman Islands to be vigilant about bringing in and taking out agriculture products. The “Don’t pack a pest” campaign was launched on Wednesday morning at Owen Roberts international Airport, which aims to raise awareness about the dangers associated with travellers unwittingly as well as deliberately smuggling in items that could cause untold damage due to the pests and insects on fruit, vegetables, meats and even handicrafts. From the red palm weevil to the African giant snail, Cayman must protect itself from invasive species, and a specialist sniffer dog Mia (left) is leading the charge.

In partnership with the US and Florida departments of agriculture, the local agricultural department and the airport joined forces to come up with a campaign to educate and press home the significance of protecting the islands' boarders from invasive pests and to prevent people from taking them out.

Officials revealed that over the years Cayman has been invaded by mealy bug, white fly and citrus fungus, all of which are invasive and arrived via travellers smuggling agriculture products. Brian Crichlow, the deputy director of agriculture, explained that while travellers are usually well aware of the rules and the dangers regarding animal importation, the problem is mostly with plants.

Agriculture Minister Kurt Tibbetts said the campaign and efforts to keep pests out was one of the most important things government had to do but he did not expect it would be the subject of radio talk shows or comments. He pointed out that Cayman has over 100 different resident nationalities coming and going and travelling back with delicacies from home that could pose serious threats to our natural environment and agricultural activity.

He admitted that in days past he too was guilty or travelling back with mangos from Jamaica, as he said like many people at the time he was not aware of the dangers. Tibbetts also warned that even handicrafts made from plant materials can carry unwanted “hitchhikers” that can threaten Cayman’s natural resources and he urged people to be aware of what they can and can’t have.

While officials said that legislation alone cannot prevent pests from crossing borders, the airport now has its own specially trained detector dog, Mia, who can sniff out agriculture products from luggage in sealed packages and even tins. However, physical detection cannot stop everything and the minister emphasised the fact that the more people were aware about what they were carrying the better.

Airport Director Albert Anderson also urged people not to bring in prohibited items as he said it slows down the arrivals process. He said the more people know what they can and can’t bring in the better as it will improve the passenger experience coming in and out of the country.

Alan Jones, the chief officer in the ministry, pointed out that the US spends some $120 billion per year dealing with invasive pests as he brought home the potential magnitude of the problem.

For more information visit the US website www.don’tpackapest.com, on which the local campaign is based, or contact the department ciagriculture@gov.ky

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Category: Science and Nature

Comments (25)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Scaevola is a good example of an invasive plant brought in by landscapers which was spread around by Hurricane Ivan, and now  occupies most of the coastline. Our native Scaevola has almost disappeared, along with almost all the beautiful beach and cliff vegetation that used to grace our beaches 20 years ago, yet can still be seen in Cuba.

    The pet shop that brought in the "pretty little green iguanas" has visited a plague on these islands. There is plenty of evidence they eat birds and their eggs, as well as seeds. They strip trees of berries relied upon by local as well as migrating birds. The biodiversity of these islands is rapidly decreasing as a result of these pests.There are alien snakes in Northside. I've seen photographs of them. The Formosan termites in Little Cayman can make their way through cement, and are causing costly damage at incredible speed. The invasive 'cats' are well and truly out of the bag.

    • Anonymous says:

      And lots of one eyed trouser snakes at Royal Palms but I think they are mainly local with the odd import.

    • Anonymous says:

      Alien snakes.  Sounds like a movie plot.

  2. Anonymous says:

    So we can't bring in fruits or vegs – fair enough. However, I think the department needs to be a bit more vigilant about vegetation being imported on this island by big developers and nursery’s.  Obviously this is a problem as we have never before had those millipedes, or whatever those big black worm looking things are called, on the island before.  I don’t know why the government allows the importatation of plants into the island that are not indigenous to our environment and think that there will not be consequences. 

    Soil, plants, grass and even sand are being brought into the island regularly – are we to believe that there is a system in place that removes ALL insects AND their eggs from these.  I think I’d need to see the proof before I believe this.   

    It is just more evidence for the argument that we can't be satisfied with what we have and always thinking that if another country has it, it most be better for us.

    • Anonymous says:

      Millipede and centipede eggs have piggybacked in on imported wood-derived mulch products where they will thrive in moist conditions and anywhere rotten wood is found.  

    • Anonymous says:

      The black (and sometimes red ones too) caterpillars are what worry me the most…I think you may be referring to the same thing (black worm looking things).  If you walk anywhere near Camana Bay – in particular down their stretch of road and walkway from West Bay Road to Camana Bay across from Royal Palms you will see the stains of their fallen comrades painting the sidewalk and the live ones heading in every direction.  It is almost impossible at times to walk through that area without smushing one even if done so inadvertently – yuck!  To make matters worse I have never seen a chicken, or ants swarming a dead body or any other creature try to consume these pests so they are probably poisonous just for good measure.  Anyone else know what I'm talking about?  Anyone know what they are???

  3. Knot S Smart says:

    Oh Dear…

    And I was just about to bring my pretty little 'spanish-termite' to Cayman for a visit…

    • Anonymous says:

      Knot S Smart you need to stop it, i almost spilled my hot tea all over me,you really need to stop it.lmao

    • Anonymous says:

      Interesting to see racial slurs being treated as if they are funny.

  4. anonymous says:

    Talking of pests …..ever tried to have a quiet drink in Royal Palms?

  5. Anonymous says:

    And iguanas. Discuss. Talk amongst yourselves….

    • Anonymous says:

      I personally like them. They seem harmless enough, the tourist love them (and we love tourist), and my yard is full of the and it's still overgrown with vegetation. 

      As far as the giant craps they take on my car now and then… I find hat waaaaaaay less offensive than say bulldozing and paving a lot on he shoreline, which I am in no way implying that the iguanas have a hand in. 

  6. Anonymous says:

    The bigger threat to the natural resources of Cayman are politicans who seek to impede effect environmental protection legislation.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Speaking of pests, someone needs to check on the fact that some shops here on Cayman Brac have an infestation problem with what a freind of mine says is the Indian Meal Moth. 

    They infest grains, cereal, flour, and just about anything made from these. They are HORRIBLE!!  Pests from hell in that once you come home with infested goods they are almost impossible to get rid of!  These things must be aliens from another planet!

    I just opened some rice and noticed their tell-tale web-like strands in the package.  I wrapped the bag in a heavy plastic bag and dumped it.  Last week I found a couiple of 'em in some flour I had just bought.  Damn things will eat right through even fairly heavy plastic packaging. More than once, I have opened a package fresh from the store only to have a live adult fly in my face!  And then there are the little maggot-like larvae that I often find in stuff I just bought!  I imagine that we have eaten our fair share of the little buggers here on the Brac not knowing they are cooked in our food. Oh, well, more protein I guess.

    I have seen them flitting around in the store and almost every night I see one or two flitting around in my house.  I am about ready to burn down the house because I can't seem to get rid of them.  They will probably just end up flying around in the flames, untouched, like the Hebrew children in the Bible.

    Several friends of mine report the same problem.

    Please help us!!!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Hello, then which department is concerned an out the millipedes?  Can someone let the public know.  The high stench from the those dead insects is very annoying.  When is help coming to rid the island of these imported pests?

     

  9. Anonymous says:

    Monkeys. Good or bad?