NATION

BAF Streamline Work To Minimise Pest Movement

With implementation of the Sea Container Hygiene System (SCHS) the number of container inspections will decrease resulting in cost saving to the shipping industry as there will be faster movement
05 Dec 2016 11:11
BAF Streamline Work To Minimise Pest Movement

With implementation of the Sea Container Hygiene System (SCHS) the number of container inspections will decrease resulting in cost saving to the shipping industry as there will be faster movement of containers at the wharves

 

Every year thousands of sea containers transit through Fiji.

It is predicted that the number of the movement of sea containers will rise further annually as trade volumes increase.

The challenge associated with this movement for National Plant Protection Organisations (NPPOs) like the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) is to inspect each sea container to ensure it is free from plant pests and other organisms including invasive alien species.

Fiji is free of the many major pests, diseases and weeds that affect global agriculture.

Protecting Fiji’s reputation for quality and safe products is crucial to safeguarding market access and for Fijian farmers to remain competitive in global trade.

However, the arrival of sea containers at Fijian ports poses a major biosecurity risk to Fiji.

This is evidenced by the volume of different pest species and contaminants being detected on arrival at the Fijian ports.

For example, in April this year, BAF intercepted 28 adult Giant African Snails (GAS) and approximately 500 eggs at the Kings Wharf which was the largest in the history of Quarantine and Biosecurity Operation in Fiji. There have been other interceptions following this.

As result of frequent interceptions of GAS at the Fijian border, Fiji has been listed as a GAS country by the Australian Authorities when Fiji is a GAS free country.

This has posed difficulties for Fijian exporters as their consignments exported to Australia go through rigorous inspections and verification processes at the Australian ports; hindering the trade flow and resulting in substantial monetary costs for local exporters.

BAF’s Efforts to Enhance Sea Container Risk Management

Over the past, BAF has put in a lot of effort in enhancing sea container risk management in Fiji.

Effective from December 1, 2016, the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries (NZMPI) and the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) have granted approval for the Sea Container Hygiene System (SCHS) to be fully operational at the Suva seaport.

The implementation of the Sea Container Hygiene System for Suva Port is a huge milestone for Fiji.

BAF has been working hard on acquiring SCHS accreditation for its stakeholders, the Container Repair Services (CSR) and the United Containers Fiji Limited (UCFL) for the past three years.

The Container Repair Services and United Containers Fiji Limited are the only two SCHS accredited operations in Fiji.

SCHS is a government–to–industry agreement developed to manage the quarantine risks associated with sea containers arriving into New Zealand and Australia from overseas countries like Fiji.

The system was originally set up by the New Zealand Government to manage the high quarantine risk associated with containers.

In 2010, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) and New Zealand’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry signed an agreement to effectively share the procedures and processes of SCHS.

The SCHS operates in collaboration with shipping industries with shipping industries and port operators using third party arrangements and provides a high degree of confidence that sea containers shipped will have had biosecurity risks managed at the port of loading.

The SCHS is underpinned by the signing of an Operating Agreement to ensure all parties are aligned with regard to their expectations, respective roles and responsibilities prior to the commencement of any activities.

BAF will assist NZMPI through providing audits reports on SCHS system while NZMPI will carry out audits annually.

Any non-conformity identified during the audit will be addressed within mutually agreed timeframes in an agreed manner.

 

Benefits of SCHS

SCHS has many benefits as it provides a high degree confidence that the container processing contractors at the port of loading will be adhering to the processes and shipping clean containers.

These containers, by and large, will not require any additional cleaning or fumigation at the port of arrival.

Additionally, as confidence in the cleaning process increases over a period of time there will be reduction in the interventions on arrival inspections of containers too.

With implementation of the SCHS the number of container inspections will decrease resulting in cost saving to the shipping industry as there will be faster movement of containers at the wharves.

If during the inspection any high level of contamination was found i.e. ants and the Giant African Snail, then a full six sided inspection of 100 percent of the consignment could apply to the port of loading for one month or longer.

The SCHS has also been adopted and implemented in other Pacific Island Countries such as Samoa, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.

 

Aligning SCHS with International Standards

SCHS has been proposed for consideration as an offshore risk management option to the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM) by New Zealand and Australia.

However, the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures adopted a recommendation encouraging the National Plant Protection Organisations to recognise and communicate the risks posed by sea containers, and to support implementation of related parts of the United Nations Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTU Code), a non-regulatory industry guide book.

BAF would like to thank the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries (NZMPI), Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR), Ministry of Public Enterprises (MPE), Fiji Ports Authority and Fiji Ports Corporation Limited for support and assistance in having Suva Port internationally recognized as being compliant to SCHS system.

 

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