On Tuesday stakeholders concerned with Suwarrow Atoll’s biosecurity gathered for a workshop held at the Te Ipukarea Society (TIS) meeting room in Tupapa.
A TIS spokesman said the reason for the workshop was to get everyone together to view the final draft of the Suwarrow Biosecurity Action Plan (BAP), and make any final comments before it is finalised.
Most of the local information in the plan was gathered in May last year by representatives from Birdlife and Pacific Invasives Initiative (PII) and provided by a number of organisations and individuals concerned with Suwarrow’s biosecurity, such as the National Environment Service, Biosecurity Cook Islands, TIS and others.
The document consists of a number of action points to reduce the chances of rats and other invasive species getting to Suwarrow.
A number of prevention measures or “obstacles” need to be set up along the pathways to Suwarrow, these include via yachts which come from other Pacific Islands, shipping companies who visit the island, and many other pathways, the report says.
The plan views biosecurity from a larger picture: for example it also focuses on the Avatiu port area on Rarotonga as being a risk area for rats which may board boats destined for Suwarrow.
It also states that information on yachting community websites is another means of raising biosecurity awareness among sailors before they visit Suwarrow. Once the action plan has been completed and properly implemented, it will greatly improve the likelihood of Suwarrow remaining rat-free and free of other invasive animals and plants, therefore safeguarding the wide range of biodiversity on this beautiful atoll, the TIS spokesman says.
The project has received support from European Union, Darwin Initiative, BirdLife and their partners the Royal Society for Bird Preservation, Pacific Invasives Initiative, and The Packard Foundation.
In 2013 a rat eradication project run by the National Environment Service, Te Ipukarea Society and BirdLife was undertaken in order to remove all rats from Suwarrow.
It appears that the project was successful, as no rats have since been recorded on the island, however the atoll needs to be intensively re-surveyed in order to confirm this.