The Asian Gypsy Moth (AGM) season typically starts from late May to September. During this period, ships calling at certain Far East ports would undergo inspections to certify free of AGM prior to their departure, so as to minimize the potential action by countries where the pest is not indigenous, the Standard P&I Club reminds.
Countries usually known to regulate and inspect arriving vessels for AGM are: the US, Canada, Chile, Australia and New Zealand. This year, Argentina was added to the list.
US and Canada
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) jointly issued a bulletin in January 2020.
According to the bulletin, due to outbreaks of AGM population in many regulated ports, a high number of vessels arrived in North American ports with AGM egg masses.
To prevent a similar situation in 2020, vessels calling at ports in AGM regulated area should take extra vigilance in conducting self-inspection and obtaining the required pre-departure certificates properly.
CFIA published a policy clarification in 2017, stating that their AGM policy does not exempt bunkering locations – including those at anchorage sites, except for bunkering at anchorage in a few regulated ports in Korea where AGM inspection services could not be obtained at certain times of the year.
As USDA requirements are aligned to CFIA’s, it is recommended that the ships calling the regulated areas for bunkering (at anchorage) shall endeavour to obtain a AGM-free certificate prior to their departure.
In March 2020, USDA issued guidance to vessels that are unable to obtain an AGM certificate as a result of COVID 19 restrictions. USDA’s policy includes:
- If a vessel remains in the AGM regulated area, obtain a certificate at the last regulated port visited.
- If a vessel has departed the regulated area and is unable to call on a port with approved certification bodies, contact the approved certification bodies to arrange for inspectors to travel to the vessel.
- If not possible to obtain an AGM certificate, ship’s crew should thoroughly self-inspect for AGM enroute to US ports.
- US authorities will order ships with detections of excessive AGM out of port for additional cleaning.
- US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspectors may require alternative boarding strategies such as boarding at anchor for ships not obtaining certification.
- Vessels proceeding to ports in Canada from AGM regulated areas should follow the same procedures and expect the same measure by CFIA.
As per the notice 06-2018, the heightened surveillance period for Australian ports is between January and May each year.
Vessels that have visited regulated ports during AGM flight season are risk assessed by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAFF) to determine the need for a targeted AGM inspection on arrival.
Relevant vessels are sent an AGM questionnaire through the Maritime Arrivals Reporting System (MARS), as part of their pre-arrival reporting (PAR) process.
Once the completed questionnaire is returned to the Maritime National Coordination Centre (MNCC) and assessed, vessels are notified if a targeted AGM inspection is required as part of their first port arrival formalities.
The requirements, that came into force on 1 February 2018, state that an arriving vessel is considered high risk for AGM if in the previous 12 months it has visited any of the regulated areas during the specified risk periods.
Such vessels should provide a valid certificate of freedom of AGM (obtained from an inspection body recognised by the MPI) upon arrival in New Zealand.
The Chilean requirements apply to ships that, in the past 24 months, visited ports located in North East and Far East Asia between 60°N and 20°N.
It means that ships calling at a port in Southern China during the flight season will also be required to produce a phytosanitary certificate.
A copy of the phytosanitary certificate together with a list of the ports called in the last two years is required to be provided to the Chilean Agricultural and Livestock Service (SAG) officials at least 24 hours prior to ship’s arrival.
SENASA has issued a document outlining the following measures:
- All international ships arriving at Argentinian ports to answer AGM questionnaire 72 hours prior to arrival.
- The areas regulated are in the North East and extreme East of Asia, between 60°N and 20°N (not north of 31°15’N, as mentioned for China in the list of regulated areas above).
- A ‘Certificate of Vessel Free of AGM will be required for ships that, in the last 24 months, have called ports in the regulated areas during the risk period.
- Ships not in those areas during the last 24 months or were in those areas but outside the risk period will be not subject to assessment.