Strengthening border biosecurity measures as means to deter the entry of invasive species in the Pacific has been one of the critical issues addressed at the first Pacific Ecological Security Conference (PESC) held in Palau this week, October 3-5.
“The challenge faced (with invasive species) is that, even if we eradicate an invasive species, but we don’t have good biosecurity in place, that invasive will come in again because of the high level of exchanges going on between countries today,” said Minister Steven Victor of Palau’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment (MAFE)
“Elevating the need for more enhanced biosecurity regulations and policies in the Pacific can ensure we can really control our borders,” added Minister Victor of the value of having the regional conference.
The first line of defense against invasive species is good biosecurity at borders.
The cost of eradicating an invasive species is quite expensive compared to preventing it from coming into the country in the first place. Different presenters reiterated this at the regional conference on Ecological Security.
Director-General Sefania Nawadra, Secretariat for the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP), in his presentation video, showcased the impacts of invasive species in many Pacific island countries, the loss of livelihood of the people, and the ecological and economic losses of untold millions. Invasive species such as rats and fire ants have taken a heavy toll on the environment and the lives of the people in the Pacific island countries, and the cost of eradication is often too high for the countries affected to bear.
Participants from each country presented the status of invasive species in their country, their biosecurity systems, eradication efforts, and existing management and control plans for invasives.
The 104 conference participants were from countries across the pacific and included two ministers from the countries of Tuvalu and Kiribati and supporting partners such as East-West Center, The Nature Conservancy, SPREP, SPC, Island Conservation, and others.