Mangaia deputy mayor Nga Ivaiti expressed his support for a workshop hosted by Bio-security and stressed the need to minimise pests that pose threats to the island’s fragile environment.
Ivaiti encouraged a close working relationship between border control agencies and pa enua island councils and the Aronga Mana.
Bio-security director Ngatoko Ta Ngatoko said the importance of the workshop could easily be explained in terms of the Bio-security Act 2008.
He stressed the role of traditional leaders, saying that island bylaws were a concern to some island residents because in some cases they contradicted the national laws passed by the Cook Islands parliament.
“The idea of ‘making friends’ with the community and creating an atmosphere of a close working relationship among community leaders is important.
“That’s because it will ensure that biosecurity awareness is promoted by educating our people about the reasons for safeguarding the island environments that pose quarantine risks,” Ngatoko said.
The workshop also provided an opportunity for participants to gain a good general understanding of biosecurity within the country. It explained some of the regulations that provide for the movement of animals and plants within the Cook Islands if a biosecurity threat to the country is suspected.
Mangaia’s residents are actively involved with monitoring their internal quarantine requirements and effectively checking the movement of cargo and people returning from Rarotonga with fresh vegetables and fruit that can pose a biosecurity risk.
One particular problem the island has encountered is the red-banded mango caterpillar which infests mangoes, and the island has had to restrict movement of the fruit. Ngatoko said the service had initiated a national advocacy campaign for biosecurity in the Cook Islands. The aim was to raise awareness and educate both the general public and visitors on the importance of being vigilant about biosecurity in the Cook Islands.