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By Staff Reporter : PNG Today

Senior Fiji official warns of biosecurity risks

Permanent secretary for the Ministry of Public Enterprises, David Kolitagane, says Fiji cannot afford to allow biosecurity risks to plant health, animal and food safety entering its shores.

He said a single isolated case could have repercussions on the country's domestic crops and livelihoods.

He made the comments as Government held a stakeholder meeting to review its biosecurity legislation.

The Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) is a government commercial statutory authority under the Ministry of Public Enterprises.

“There are many challenges in managing biosecurity. Globalisation of trade and the increase in accessibility of travel establishes new pathways to incursions of pests and diseases. Fiji as a small developing nation is expanding its trade relations and economic growth in this face of globalisation.”

He added it was important to ensure a regulatory framework was in place to reflect the future global marketplace which Fiji was a part of.

The review consultations is being funded by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

FAO representative Joann Young said Fiji pushed for technical assistance which saw it being prioritised for the regional project.

“Fiji is one of the bigger Pacific Island countries where the economy and trade is big and because they have their own unique set of needs,” Young said.

“There are some gaps in the current legislation that need to be addressed and be streamlined with international best practices.

“It's going to be a complex task because it's going to cut across animal, plants and also food safety so they will be looking at these key areas.”.

Meanwhile, the Australian Government is working with its Fijian stakeholders to resolve the issue of biosecurity in relation to Giant African Snails, which in fact does not exist in the country.

Australian Minister for International Development and the Pacific senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells comments followed by questions on why are cargos and containers from Fiji still subjected to this pest inspection when the pest does not exist in this country.

Performance Floatation Developments managing director Michael Towler said Fiji was not a port or a country infested with Giant African Snails.

However, he said, all containers that went through the ports in Australia were checked for African Snails and this had caused huge delays on Australian ports.

The delay, he said, could take two to three weeks and this came with a charge for their privilege to have Fiji's containers sitting on their port.

“Waiting for Australian Quarantine Authority to check the Giant African Snails that don't exist in this country,” Towler said.

“We have to constantly debate with Australia but why is Fiji still subjected to this pest inspection when the pest doesn't exist in this country.

“I am complimenting the Kiwis for being a champion in this market. I don't see a reason why Australia can't?

“Why do Fiji products have to go through biosecurity for Giant African Snails that does not exist in Fiji?" he questioned.

Fierravanti-Wells said this was a continuing discussion with Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

“We will continue as I understand to look closely particular with Fijian stakeholders in the hope that we will resolve this issue,” she said.

“I understand that in some cargos and containers that are coming from Fiji they have been high level of soils contamination which have the pests associated with it but as I understand we are continuing and closely working with Pacific Island countries to establish a sea container hygiene system in the main ports and we hoped that this successful implementation will streamline processes and will tremendously reduce the delays,” she added.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES

Posted by Staff Reporter : PNG Today on 6:38 PM. Filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Share this Article

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