The workshop on Stakeholders Import Specifications organised by Biosecurity and Customs was held in Aitutaki in April.
Director of Biosecurity Service Ngatoko Ta Ngatoko says the workshop was conducted on the island to inform local importers on biosecurity risks associated with the movement of cargoes, travelling passengers, yachts, ships and aircraft.
“The workshop aims to share new developments in the importations of goods from overseas, focusing on the import specification made under Part 4, section 26 of the Biosecurity Act 2008.
“That provides importers with guidance or requirements of importation of any regulated article in regards to whether an import permit is required for the importation, if so what conditions are required and a sanitary or phytosanitary certificate is required,” Ngatoko said.
Officiating at the workshop was newly-appointed Aitutaki mayor Tekura Bishop who expressed his support for the event.
Bishop said the discussions also addressed the needs of importers and allowed participants to put forward their ideas on ways of minimising the introduction of exotic pests that posed a threat to Aitutaki’s pristine environment, while also maintaining trade to cater for visitors.
“The high volume of international traffic by air and ocean can result in our vulnerability to introduction of unwanted pests and diseases,” Bishop said.
Some pest introductions were intentional, such as the smuggling plant materials without proper clearance from country of origin, he said.
“However, nintentional introduction can result from trade, travel and transport and if the Cook Islands is not prepared to protect its international and internal borders, the risk of invasive species introduction, establishment and spread is very high.”
Biosecurity would only be successful in the prevention of any arrival of “alien” species if all stakeholders worked together to achieve their goals, Bishop added.